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Center for Regulatory Effectiveness

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Regulating Synthetic Biology
Synthetic biology is an emerging scientific discipline that uses“chemically created pieces of design and assemble chromosomes, parts of chromosomes, genes and gene pathways.” Effective regulation of this research field, also known as synthetic genomics, is needed to encourage technology development while prudently managing potential hazards.

A report on regulatory options was prepared by the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI), the Center for Strategic & International Studies, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The goal of the 20-month project was to develop policies “that attempt to reduce security and safety risks without imposing undue burdens on researchers, industry, or government.”

The ETC Group, a Canadian-based watchdog organization, has raised objections to the study claiming that it “fails to address wider societal concerns about the rapid deployment of a powerful and controversial new technology.” Instead of focusing on science, the NGO’s objections to the report are primarily political, as they state that “broad societal debate on synbio's wider implications must come first” and “strong democratic oversight should be mandatory...”

ETC is wrong. Regulation of biology, synthetic and otherwise, should be based on science – not “democratic oversight.” Endless “societal debate” should not be allowed to block society’s access to needed new technologies.

See Press Release

See report, “Synthetic Genomics: Options for Governance”

See ETC Group Press Release

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