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Synthetic biology -- opportunities and risks
Date:8/3/2009

or Brbel Friedrich, a member of the DFG Senate Commission on Genetic Research and Vice President of the Leopoldina, developed the joint statement based on the findings of an international and interdisciplinary workshop held in Berlin on 27 February. The workshop brought together scientists and academics from the fields of biochemistry, molecular biology, genetics, microbiology, virology, chemistry, physics and the engineering sciences, as well as from the humanities and social sciences.

The statement was subsequently passed by the Executive Committees of the three organisations and defines five spheres of activity to outline how Germany can best profit from the potential offered by synthetic biology. These five spheres of activity are:

  • the strengthening of basic research
  • the bundling of relevant disciplines in research and education
  • the development of patenting processes
  • the elimination of threats and the prevention of misuse
  • the monitoring of this new research field using technology assessment methods

For the foreseeable future, the focus of synthetic biology will, in the opinion of the three organisations, lie in basic research. The paper comes to the conclusion that the success of synthetic biology will depend substantially on the extent to which it is able to bring together the wide variety of disciplines as early as the student training stage. Safety-relevant aspects are also addressed, with the paper concluding that, according to the current state of research, the existing laws aimed at ensuring biological safety (biosafety) and at eliminating potential misuse (biosecurity) are sufficient. Despite this, a continuous discussion on safety-relevant issues is considered necessary. This should, in the authors' opinion, be assigned to the Central Commission for Biological Safety (ZKBS).

The "Synthetic Biology" statement is directed particularly at politicians and interested members of the public.'/>"/>

Contact: Dr. Eva-Maria Streier
em.streier@dfg.de
49-228-885-2250
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
Source:Eurekalert

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