Legos and Mark Ruffalo explain promises and perils of synthetic biology

eBay genome auction
Image via Scientific American.

Synthetic biology is proving to be one of the most promising areas of science. So far, it’s given us a source of anti-malaria drugs, sterilized mosquitoes, and even made color-changing flowers. With increasingly simple methods and innovative minds in the field, the possibilities of what we can create with a little manipulation of biological systems is endless.

But genetic engineering isn’t without its detractors. This was made clear by the recent highly publicized call by scientists around the world for a moratorium on the use of gene editing technique CRISPR/Cas9 in the human germline. Indeed, genetically modified organisms have long been met with reactions ranging from cautious skepticism to calls for an outright ban on their release into the environment.

The video below, from Grist, gives a clever overview of how synthetic biology works – using Legos – as well as a brief history of the fraught and highly polarizing debates it’s brought over the years. Will the future of synthetic biology forever be caught between an unregulated Wild West nightmare, and total prohibition with no progress? Or can scientists and policymakers find a more middle-ground approach that harnesses the benefits while keeping disaster at bay?

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: This synthetic biology explainer involves Legos, Mark Ruffalo, and skateboards. Watch it

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