Science and Technology Innovation Program
Societal Issues Arising From Synthetic Biology
In this emerging and rapidly changing field of synthetic biology, prediction is not the answer, nor is it even possible. We need to figure out how to build robust systems and strategies that mitigate bad things and exploit positive occurrences. On November 8th and 9th 2010 the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars hosted a workshop asking: What would these systems and strategies look like? Who is responsible for creating them?
Experts from across a range of disciplines explored the unexpected events, innovations, convergences and results that often fall off the table at many workshops — game changers within and outside the field of synthetic biology that may give rise to new societal issues. Participants explored the more distant, "over the horizon" issues that may arise from synthetic biology and identified areas of research on the societal implications of synthetic biology that have yet to receive the attention they merit.