Team:TU-Delft/human practice


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Human Practice

The emerging field of synthetic biology brings an engineering approach to biology. Individual parts can be readily synthesized and combined in different biological arrangements to make useful products such as biopharmaceuticals and biofuels. Synthetic biology spans from advanced genetic engineering to the construction of new biological parts, devices and systems .

History has shown that although new frames for technological advances may capture the imagination of funding agencies, politicians and investors, there is a concomitant risk of raising ethical and legal issues that reverberate beyond the scope of the technology and the researcher community. Thus, framing synthetic biology as revolutionary could feed the cycle of hype common with new technologies [8] and lead to disproportionate social, ethical and regulatory responses. In this vein, the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, in its 2010 report on synthetic biology, cites information accuracy as a key recommendation for this emerging field. It cautions that ‘[t]he use of sensationalist buzzwords and phrases... may initially increase attention to the underlying science and its implications for society, but ultimately such words impede ongoing understanding of both the scientific and ethical issues at the core of public debates on these topics’ [9]. This Opinion focuses on potential public acceptance responses, as well as regulatory and commercialization issues. Human Practice constitutes an important aspect of synthetic biology.