Irene Mendoza and David Gillum from ASU’s Environmental Health and Safety Office were featured speakers at the June 3-6 Asociación Mexicana de Bioseguridad Simposio – a biosafety conference held annually in Mexico.
Mendoza’s field of expertise is synthetic biology, or synbio.
Synbio is a rapidly growing field throughout the world, said Mendoza. It applies concepts from different fields, such as engineering, math, physics and biology, to design and build new biological systems and redesign existing natural biological systems for useful purposes.
“Some people are against synbio and others support it; however, the great majority of people are not aware of this field and need more information,” said Mendoza.
As a developing country, Mexico is very interested in synbio technology to increase food production, develop new biofuels and develop new pharmaceuticals and medical diagnostics, said Mendoza. Other countries are also interested due to geographical and other challenges they face.
On the other hand, the rapid evolution of the synbio field presents substantial security implications, said Gillum, EHS associate director of biosafety and biosecurity.
“From the chemicals being used in the laboratory, to the people performing the work, to the final product created, all participants in the field need to be aware of these issues and participate in making the practice as safe and secure as possible," said Gillum.
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