Synthetic Biology Publications
The next industrial revolution will fundamentally change the way we make things, and where. Government needs to create policy frameworks that support the transition to a new manufacturing paradigm and we also need to have a public conversation about what this world should look like and what policies are needed to make sure that both society and the planet will benefit.
This July 2011 issue of Synthetic Biology 2.0 looks at the work of the United States Presidential Bioethics Commission, the dominant discourse in the synthetic biology debate, vaccines as the first commercial applicaiton of synthetic biology, do-it-yourself biology, biosecurity, and biofiction where science and arts meet.
The increase in media coverage of synthetic biology between 2003-2008 is tracked in this 2008 report. The combined survey rests on the findings of individual U.S. and European press coverage analyses, and examines aspects of synthetic biology that may be cause for either potential public acceptance or rejection of the technology. The report concludes with an agenda for future social science research that can inform our understanding of how public perceptions of synthetic biology develop.
In New Life, Old Bottles: Regulating First-Generation Products of Synthetic Biology, Michael Rodemeyer examines the benefits and drawbacks of using the existing U.S. regulatory framework for biotechnology to cover the new products and processes enabled by synthetic biology. The safety of early applications of synthetic biology may be adequately addressed by the existing regulatory framework for biotechnology, especially in contained laboratories and manufacturing facilities, according to the report. But further advances in this emerging field are likely to create significant challenges for U.S. government oversight.
A groundbreaking poll of 1,001 U.S. adults conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates and the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies found 90 percent of Americans think that the public should be better informed about the development of cutting-edge technologies, according to this 2009 report summarizing the findings.
A 2010 analysis by the Synthetic Biology Project found that the U.S. government spent around $430 million on research related to synthetic biology since 2005, with the Department of Energy funding a majority of the research. By comparison, the analysis indicated that the European Union and three individual European countries – the Netherlands, United Kingdom, and Germany – had spent approximately $160 million during that same period. Approximately 4 percent of the U.S. funding and 2 percent of the European funding was being spent to explore ethical, legal, and social implications of synthetic biology, but no projects focused on risk assessment.
From August 16 to August 22, 2010, Hart Research Associates conducted a nationwide survey among 1,000 adults about attitudes toward the entities involved in the oversight of new scientific and technological advances, awareness of nanotechnology, and awareness of and attitudes toward synthetic biology and two potential applications of the science. According to this report, awareness of nanotechnology was at its highest measured level in five years. This same year, one in three Americans reported hearing a lot or some about nanotechnology, which was a slight increase over results in 2009.
The first edition of the Synthetic Biology Newsletter, published in November 2010, reviews the basics of synthetic biology, explains how this new emerging technology intersects with several areas of science and talks about its effect on public perception.
Synthetic biology will allow scientists and engineers to create biological systems that do not occur naturally as well as to re-engineer existing biological systems to perform novel and beneficial tasks. This 2009 report presents a framework for addressing the social and ethical issues surrounding the field.
From August 20 to 25, 2008, Peter D. Hart Research Associates conducted a nationwide survey among 1,003 adults about awareness of and attitudes toward both nanotechnology and synthetic biology. Nearly nine in 10 Americans say they have heard just a little or nothing at all about synthetic biology, according to this 2008 report summarizing the survey findings.