Navigation Links
Does Synthetic Biology Need Synthesized Ethics?

New Report Calls for a Broad Ethics of Emerging Technologies

WASHINGTON, June 24 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The emerging field of synthetic biology will allow researchers to create biological parts and systems that do not occur naturally as well as to re-engineer existing organisms to perform novel and beneficial tasks. As the science and its applications develop, a comprehensive approach to addressing ethical and social issues is called for, especially if scarce intellectual resources are to be used optimally, according to a new report authored by Erik Parens, Josephine Johnston, and Jacob Moses of The Hastings Center. Synthetic biology promises significant advances in areas such as biofuels, specialty chemicals, agriculture, and medicine but has also raised concerns about potential ethical, social, environmental, and security implications.

Commissioned by the Synthetic Biology Project at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Ethical Issues in Synthetic Biology: An Overview of the Debates analyzes how the ethical issues raised by a variety of emerging technologies are often similar and familiar. The authors find that these similarities are abundant enough to justify an effort to develop an ethical framework that cuts across emerging and converging technologies. "Rather than stovepiping ethical questions into the hyphenated areas of bio-ethics, nano-ethics, neuro-ethics and so on, it is time to begin developing an ethics of emerging technologies as a whole," said Erik Parens in a discussion of the report's findings at the Woodrow Wilson Center on June 24.

"Given the rate at which new technologies are emerging, a comprehensive ethical approach should be developed to more readily identify and address ethical challenges and foster a productive public dialogue about social implications," said David Rejeski, director of the Synthetic Biology Project. "Synthetic biology provides both a test case and an opportunity to get in front of these issues."

The report explores the differences between physical and non-physical harms and pro-actionary and pre-cautionary frameworks, in an effort to better define the ethical issues around an emerging area such as synthetic biology.

To download the report and find more information about synthetic biology, see:

About Synthetic Biology

According to the U.K. Royal Academy of Engineering, synthetic biology aims to design and engineer biologically based parts, novel devices and systems as well as redesign existing, natural biological systems.

The Synthetic Biology Project is an initiative of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars supported by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The Project aims to foster informed public and policy discourse concerning the advancement of synthetic biology. For more information, visit:

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars ( is the living, national memorial to President Wilson established by Congress in 1968 and headquartered in Washington, D.C. The Center establishes and maintains a neutral forum for free, open, and informed dialogue. It is a nonpartisan institution, supported by public and private funds and engaged in the study of national and international affairs.

The Hastings Center ( is an independent, nonpartisan, and nonprofit bioethics research institute founded in 1969. The Center's mission is to address fundamental ethical issues in the areas of health, medicine, and the environment as they affect individuals, communities, and societies.

SOURCE Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
Copyright©2009 PR Newswire.
All rights reserved

Related biology technology :

1. CODA Genomics Announces Issuance of Optimized Synthetic Gene Production Patent
2. FDA Approves IXEMPRA(TM) (ixabepilone), a Semi-Synthetic Analog of Epothilone B, for the Treatment of Advanced Breast Cancer
3. Venter Institute Scientists Create First Synthetic Bacterial Genome
4. ES Vascular Receives CE Mark for its First Aortic Stapler for End-to-End Anastomosis Between Synthetic Grafts and Aorta During Open Repair of Aortic Aneurysmal and Occlusive Disease
5. WuXi PharmaTech Promotes Dr. Rujian Ma to VP of Synthetic Chemistry
6. The MathWorks Sponsors iGEM Competition for Synthetic Biology at MIT : MATLAB and SimBiology Help Accelerate Design of Synthetic Biological Systems
7. RNAi Helps Illuminate the Inner Workings of the Cell Cycle: Synthetic RNAissance™ Genes Created by DNA2.0 Enable Key Research
8. Synthetic Biology Importance in the 21st Century
9. Synthetic Biology: The Next Biotech Revolution Is Brewing
10. Pepscan Achieves a Breakthrough With CLIPS Immunogen Technology: Synthetic Peptide Antigen is Able to Induce Fully Functional Antibodies Against a Formerly Intractable GPCR Target CXCR7
11. Synthetic Biology on the Rise
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/23/2016)... TORONTO , June 23, 2016 /PRNewswire/ - ... Ontario biotechnology company, Propellon ... the development and commercialization of a portfolio of ... cancers. Epigenetic targets such as WDR5 represent an ... contribute significantly in precision medicine for cancer patients. ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... (Yeast and Mold) microbial test has received AOAC Research Institute approval 061601. , ... tests introduced last year,” stated Bob Salter, Vice President of Regulatory and Industrial ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 23, 2016   EpiBiome , a precision microbiome ... in debt financing from Silicon Valley Bank (SVB). The ... to advance its drug development efforts, as well as ... "SVB has been an incredible strategic partner to ... traditional bank would provide," said Dr. Aeron Tynes ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... In a new case report published today in ... patient who developed lymphedema after being treated for breast cancer benefitted from an injection ... for dealing with this debilitating, frequent side effect of cancer treatment. , ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
(Date:6/22/2016)... , June 22, 2016 On Monday, the ... to industry to share solutions for the Biometric Exit ... Customs and Border Protection (CBP), explains that CBP intends ... departing the United States , in ... to defeat imposters. Logo - ...
(Date:6/9/2016)... leader in attendance control systems is proud to announce the introduction of fingerprint attendance ... the right employees are actually signing in, and to even control the opening of ... ... ... Photo - ...
(Date:6/2/2016)... 2016   The Weather Company , an IBM Business ... industry-first capability in which consumers will be able to interact ... questions via voice or text and receive relevant information about ... Marketers have long sought an advertising solution that can ... personal, relevant and valuable; and can scale across millions of ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):