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 Post subject: Science Playing God.....
PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 5:44 pm 
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That Daily Galaxy!
these guys are on the ball!
where they dig em up i dont know but we really have to pay more attention to them!
berg ?Playing God? -Scientists in Final Stage of Creating Man-made Life
[url "http://www.dailygalaxy.com/photos/uncategorized/2007/06/21/2407ld1.jpg"][/url][url "http://www.dailygalaxy.com/photos/uncategorized/2007/06/21/humangenome.jpg"][/url][url "http://www.dailygalaxy.com/photos/uncategorized/2007/06/21/humangenome_2.jpg"][img]http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/images/2007/06/21/humangenome_2.jpg[/img][/url]Dr Craig Venter, who has led the private sector effort to sequence the human genome, has been working for years to create a man-made organism. He says his company Synthetic Genomics Inc, has nearly completed the journey to create the world?s first free-living artificial organism. According to Venter, it will only be a few more weeks before manmade life is unveiled in his very own laboratory. ?It will be one of the bright milestones in human history, changing our conceptual view of life.? Said Venter. [/url]
Others have a less ?bright? view of Venter?s work?they say it could be potentially dangerous. It has been suggested that this type of technology could turn out to be the scary side of ?playing God?, since it invariably suggests the chance that dangerous organisms could be inadvertently (or purposefully) unleashed on a world unprepared to deal with the consequences. Because there is no precedence, scientists don?t know for sure what kind of negative impact is possible.
While control measures have been suggested, such as using software to spot purchases of DNA sequences that could be used as weapons, there is no comprehensive regulation in the field of synthetic life. Watchdogs say we?re taking a big gamble that the science will stay a step ahead of nefarious uses.
Even if artificial biology could be kept under control and appropriately monitored?something many say is near impossible?activists and researchers are concerned that the technology may be exclusively locked up for commercial gain.
Synthetic Genomics Inc, has filed controversial patents on synthetic bugs that would make fuels such as ethanol or hydrogen, and likely make a lot of money for those involved, as well. It has also filed an international application at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) which names more than 100 countries where the institute may seek monopoly patents.
The J Craig Venter Institute's US patent application claims exclusive ownership of a set of essential genes and a synthetic "free-living organism that can grow and replicate" made using those particular genes.
In early June, the ETC Group, a watchdog organization based in Canada, which monitors developments in biotechnology, launched a campaign against Venter?s patent application. They called on patent offices to reject applications on life forms. ETC?s Jim Thomas says that Venter?s company is poised to become the ?Microbesoft? of synthetic biology.
The company announced a deal June 13 with energy giant BPPLC to identify and modify naturally occurring microbes with the capability to turn coal or oil below the earth?s surface into cleaner fuel. Microorganisms ?have the potential to provide all the transportation fuel we need in the U.S.,? says Venter. ?I joke that I?m going from the gene king to the oil king.? The thing is, no one really thinks he?s joking.
Venter says he's been expecting attacks on his work. "Patents are a hot word, and people are afraid of synthetic organisms." He says this research is merely the "tip if the iceberg", and future possibilities include bugs that clean up pollution, or signal when they detect explosives.
Indeed, the technology may end up providing beneficial solutions to some of the planet's biggest problems, and Venter has won kudos for bringing together a panel of bioethicists, religious leaders, and biowarfare experts to study the issues. The consensus for that particular group was that the research shouldn't be stopped, but that synthetic organisms must be controlled and contained.
According to Venter, Environmental groups shouldn?t be fighting his work, but rather be ?ecstatic about what we are doing, since we provide one of the clear alternatives to burning oil and coal.?
Very few would argue that there are no potential goods coming out of this type of work, but experts strongly caution that the potential negative consequences cannot be ignored.
?While creating new life may not be playing God,? says Arthur L. Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, ?it has revolutionary implications for how we see ourselves. When we can synthesize life, it makes the notion of a living being less special.? And there?s a perception that synthetic biologists may be ?manipulating nature without knowing where they are going.? he says. ?There are arrogant scientists, and our friend Venter may be one of them.?
Posted by Rebecca Sato
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