Can Synthetic Biology Save Wildlife?

April 3, 2013

This month, synthetic and conservation biologists meet in Cambridge, England for the Synthetic Biology and Conservation Conference. Organized by Kent Redford of WCS and Archipelago Consulting, the conference will explore how the rapidly growing field of synthetic biology could affect the conservation of nature.

According to a new research paper, synthetic biology is on the rise, with billions of dollars annually invested into the scientific field. Many are optimistic about the discipline, which uses chemically synthesized DNA to create organisms, and praise its potential for ameliorating health problems, climate change issues, and scarcity of food and water.

Critics worry that the emerging field could create problems for the natural world. Genetic modification, they warn, threatens native species and natural ecosystems.

According to Kent Redford, who organized the conference and co-authored the study, discussions must be initiated for the benefit of decision-makers. He says, “An open discussion between the two communities is needed to help identify areas of collaboration on a topic that will likely change the relationship of humans with the natural world.”

Read our press release to learn more about the upcoming conference >>

Read the symposium's framing paper, "How will synthetic biology and conservation shape the future of nature?" >>

Read the essay published in the online journal Plos Biology"Synthetic Biology and Conservation of Nature: Wicked Problems and Wicked Solutions" >> 

Listen to a podcast featuring an interview with Kent Redford at Scientific American >>

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