Hey biotech pioneers, life is more than a DNA sequence

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Craig Venter and I share a deep concern about issues like climate change, a dedication to getting off fossil fuels, and a strong suspicion that the universe is so big and old that it’s probably teeming with life. But when I read Craig’s remarks like:

We’re dealing with the design of organisms based on the functions we want. This is something that would never occur on its own in nature. And we can speed up the glacial [evolutionary] process that would occur in nature by orders of magnitude…[, theoretically giving us] control over biological design. We can write DNA software… and create unlimited variations on biological life.

I’m afraid Craig might not be joking or speaking metaphorically and that he really might not understand the differences between digital computer code and genomics.

So I really hope his creations never escape, and that when they do, his “kill switches” and “chemical dependency” will reliably stop them from spreading their alien sequences to actual life or from adapting to survive and multiply. What humans have learned so far about genomics is only a tiny step toward understanding the life process. Meanwhile, our ignorance is not bliss and can be dangerous.

Read the full, original story: Urgent Memo to Biotech Pioneers: Life Is More Than a DNA Sequence

 

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