ODT: Ethics and ‘Dr God’

An editorial in the Otago Daily Times looks at the announcement of the first fully functional synthetic genome,which was inserted into a host bacterium and successfully ‘booted up’ the cell.

The breakthrough, correctly hailed as a great technical advance, has drawn both excitement and consternation as people consider the implications of the breakthrough.

An excerpt: (read in full here)

“In the secular world, this was briefly sensational, and described somewhat effusively as the creation of the world’s first “artificial cell”.

“Much foolish speculation along the lines of “Dr God” creating a synthetic man followed.

“There is no doubt that the team employed at the J. Craig Venter Institute has achieved an important technical step towards the goal of creating artificial or synthetic life.

“But we are a very long way indeed from realising some of the speculation: the construction of human limbs or body parts or even a human being in the laboratory.”