Uncertain US laws and regulations surround DIY synthetic biology


At the moment, there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the regulation of the DIY biology movement. DIY biologists, a subset of the biohacker community, mess around with DNA, often in communal lab settings where they share their techniques, knowledge, and discoveries with other science enthusiasts. As Alyssa Sims noted in Slate in January, “They’re creating spaces to support community engagement with, and the democratization of, science. In effect, then, they are questioning the power, authority, and hierarchy of academic institutions.”

But with that authority-questioning approach comes sticky questions of legality, ethics, and regulations….

The U.S. regulatory system is set up to focus on the products of scientific endeavors, rather than the processes behind them, according to Sarah Carter, a science policy consultant who has helped craft policies for the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and the National Institutes of Health.

So what’s to stop you from being afraid of deranged basement scientists or incompetent, unsupervised students handling dangerous pathogens? For now, at least, there’s the limitation of the science itself. Genetically engineering something dangerous is high-level science, generally considered too advanced for community labs. Citizen scientists sometimes dream big, but occasionally, the reality of scientific limits can bring those dreams crashing down.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: The Fuzzy Regulations Surrounding DIY Synthetic Biology