Keeping synthetic biology away from terrorists

Scientists want to adopt a set of declarations to improve the security of research that uses DNA synthesis. Drew Endy, Asst Prof of Bioengineering at MIT, is interviewed at the MIT Technology Review about these policy efforts.

Issues related to the development of synthetic biology can be organized into four topics: safety and security, ownership and sharing, understanding and perception, and community organization. It is irresponsible to develop any technology without also directly addressing the associated nontechnical issues. For example, today, not all DNA synthesis companies check what they make. This was demonstrated recently by the Guardian, which published a front-page article stating you could order a piece of smallpox DNA through the mail. We tried to dissuade the journalist from going forward with this stunt.

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