In progress from 01-07-2011 to 15-07-2012
Project manager: Johan Evers
Synthetic biology is a new scientific and technological domain where scientists and engineers attempt to change existing organisms by designing and synthetically creating genes or proteins, metabolic or development processes, and entire biological systems, in order to understand the basic mechanics of the molecules of biological organisms and to create new and useful functions. Synthetic biology might have an impact in the following industries: biofuels, anticontaminants, textile, cosmetics, diagnostic and therapeutic instruments, vaccines, medicines, and ingredients for food products and pet food and feed (Europese Groep Ethiek, 2009).
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Until now, there have hardly been any societal or political discussions in Flanders about the significance of synthetic biology for our society and the potential for the environment, the biodiversity, economy, (bio)safety, health care, and so on. Nevertheless, synthetic biology, with its predominant engineering perspective touches on some fundamental dichotomies, such as natural/artificial, life/death, man/machine, study/design, etc.
Therefore, the first objective of this IST project will be to provide an IST dossier on synthetic biology, being relevant for Flanders, with an elucidating and introductory exploration of the subject. This dossier is principally directed at the Flemish policymakers but interested citizens, scientists, knowledge institutions and civil society organizations are potential readers too.
The information contained in the dossier will be presented in an attractive and purposive way during a valorization activity related to this research.