Synthetic biology for debate
Synthetic biology is a new and for many a foreign field that potentially can solve some of the big challenges we find it difficult to solve. The technology is at an early stage and only during a time line of 5-20 years depending on the topic and process of the case, the visions of the research can be reality. Danish researchers and companies are advanced in the field and have the possibility to lead the research. The question is how can we handle the synthetic biology? The Danish Board of Technology and The Danish Council of Ethics instituted a workgroup who tried to establish guidelines for which areas there should be focus on and how.From April 2010 to April 2011 The Danish Board of Technology and The Danish Council of Ethics worked on a project about synthetic biology. A work group had drafted ideas to a discussions material about the development within the researched field. The work group consisted of experts in biology, physics and chemistry, philosophy, risk communication and knowledge dissemination.
Because of the potential in synthetic biology for solving some of the great challenges, that are difficult to handle, the work group came to this conclusion among others: it is important that both ordinary people and professionals debate the use of synthetic biology with special concern towards application, priority of research, ethics, democratic management, risk assessment and regulation.
The discussion material is directed broadly to different researchers, companies, public institutions and towards the politicians and the authorities, because these bodies potentially are the ones to legislate in this area.
The discussion material does not include worked through recommendations of the potentials or social challenges for synthetic biology. The discussion material makes room for a debate in Danish on synthetic biology with both positive and negative angles there can make a solid foundation for qualified solutions due to the debate.
Highlights from the discussions material
- Synthetic biology research is at an early stage and it is possible to be proactive in the area.
- It is important to create an open and interdisciplinary dialogue on synthetic biology.
- The risks connected to synthetic biology are currently limited.
- It is important to work with a responsible management of research and development on synthetic biology.
- The public should be involved in the ethics and value-related aspects on synthetic biology.
- All countries are to take part in an international cooperation with the potentials and necessary regulations as a common concern.
The work group consisted of:
Birger Lindberg Møller, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Copenhagen
Gunna Christiansen, The Danish Council of Ethics
Maja Horst, Department of Organisation, Copenhagen Business School
Jakob Vedelsby, freelance journalist
Morten Andreasen, The Danish Council of Ethics
Steen Rasmussen, Department of Physics and Chemistry, University of Southern Denmark
Thomas Breck, Center of Risk Communication
Sune Holm, Institute of Philosophy, University of Copenhagen
For additional information please contact
Gy Larsen, projectmanager
p: +45 30 78 51 66
Emil Lundedal Hammar, projectassistant
p: +45 2889 2099
Jørgen Madsen, information projectmanager
p: +45 30 78 51 68
Last update: 02-04-2013