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Biohacker crackdown? Germany threatens gene-editing hobbyists with fines, jail

| | February 14, 2017
DIY gene engineering
Biohackers working in a kitchen of Odin founder Josiah Zayner’s apartment. Credit: Josiah Zayner.
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

The German government…is none too pleased with [how easily people can conduct gene editing experiments outside of labs thanks to advances in science]…[Its] consumer protection office [recently] issued a statement: Any science enthusiast doing genetic engineering outside of a licensed facility, it wrote, might face a fine of €50,000 or up to three years in prison.

The statement sent a wave of shock through the DIY bio community.

The law behind the German DIY bio crackdown isn’t new. The government was simply reminding so-called biohackers of a long-existing law that forbids genetic engineering experiments outside of laboratories supervised and licensed by the state.

“I’m pretty sure that laws will prohibit me from continuing my research at a later state,” said Bruno Lederer, a German biohacker who hopes that loopholes in the law will allow his work to continue for now. “I think it’s a shame that I’d have to do illegal things in order to do independent research.”

Community biology labs…shouldn’t have an issue getting licensed. But not every DIY scientist lives near or has the resources to join a community lab. If the DIY bio movement is about making science accessible to those outside the Ivory Tower of academia, the German government’s statement represents a serious roadblock.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: Germany Is Threatening Biohackers With Prison

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