More news in biology today. According to the Guardian, private sector human genome decoder Craig Venter and his colleagues have succeeded in synthesizing an entire microbial genome using off-the-shelf chemicals. They plan to install it soon in a bacterial cell whose own genome has been removed where it will take over the cell and become the first synthetic life form, Mycoplasma laboratorium. Basically, the idea behind synthetic biology is eventually to transform biology into an engineering discipline with a tool box of mix-and-match standardized parts that can be used to create whatever life form is desired.
As Venter tells the Guardian:
"We are not afraid to take on things that are important just because they stimulate thinking," he said. "We are dealing in big ideas. We are trying to create a new value system for life. When dealing at this scale, you can't expect everybody to be happy."
And indeed everybody is not happy. Pat Mooney, head of the anti-technology ETC Group declared:
"For the first time, God has competition. Venter and his colleagues have breached a societal boundary, and the public hasn't even had a chance to debate the far-reaching social, ethical and environmental implications of synthetic life."
Whole Guardian story here.