Friday, 21 May 2010

Artificial life...

The Venter institute in the USA has succeeded in transplanting synthetic DNA into a host cell to create the most primitive artificial life. This has drawn the usual criticism of how much danger this potentially brings when any advance of this type is made. The ethical debates will go on, and the regulations will be reviewed.

But in the end this is going to be commonplace in the future. We will come to rely on organisms that are man-made to do all sorts of clever and desirable things. These could include providing useful fuels or vaccines. Of course there are risks that bad artificial bacteria will escape in the wild either accidentally or due to war/terrorism. But there are risks associated with many other things humans do ... we had the same debates about nuclear power generation for example. But these advances won't be halted. We will all benefit from them in the fullness of time. And yes the debates will go on. I hope the good results of this work will quickly be commercialised into solutions for some of the big problems the world faces. It's just a case of how long this will take.

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