Dom Post: Synthetic cells could change the world, says Kiwi scientist

Kiran Chug and Matt Callman write in the Dominion Post about the successful creation of a synthetic genome, announced last week in the journal Science.

The announcement has sparked much comment and debate from scientists and members of the public, with some saying it could potentially change the world (positively), while others say the potential for catastrophe could outweigh any benefits.

An excerpt: (read in full here)

“Dr Dearden said the American team had huge resources behind it but in time, when the techniques become simpler and less costly to develop, Kiwi scientists could afford to develop applications that could be highly sought after by big business.

“The technique was currently so specific, it may not be able to be developed further and ethical questions could stop scientists perservering with it, he said. “Apart from those two possibilities, there’s a good chance this will change the world. In 50 years’ time, I think this is going to be quite important.”

“Otago University bioethics senior lecturer Neil Pickering said the work raised ethical issues. Some may feel the scientists were “playing God” – an act which could be considered frightening or invigorating.”