Playing God

Derrick

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Nov 22, 2010
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Engineering artificial life is a very controversial scientific field, but Craig Venter did not let this stop him as he is apparently on the verge of creating artificial life.

According to a The Guardian newspaper report Venter has built a synthetic chromosome using lab chemicals and is on the verge of creating the first ever artificial life form.

He hails this as a massive step in the history of human kid and even punts it as a potential remedy to certain illnesses and global warming.

While it remains to be seen whether it will in fact solve problems like global warming, he is absolutely spot on by saying that it is “a very important philosophical step in the history of our species.”

Many of the greatest scientific minds have pondered the creation of life, but up to now it was not entirely clear if it was possible to artificially create life. If Venter is correct this riddle is finally solved.

“We are going from reading our genetic code to the ability to write it. That gives us the hypothetical ability to do things never contemplated before,” Venter said.
Getting ahead of itself

There may however be a twist in this tale. According to AFP Venter spokeswoman Heather Kowalski told them that “The Guardian is ahead of themselves on this.”

“We have not achieved what some have speculated we have in synthetic life,”

Kowalski said. “When we do so there will be a scientific publication and we are likely months away from that.”

Controversial

Not everyone is happy about this potential artificial creation of life.

Jim Thomas from the Canadian bioethics organization ETC Group asks this about Venter’s patent on this development: “These monopoly claims signal the start of a high-stakes commercial race to synthesize and privatize synthetic life forms. Will Venter’s company become the ‘Microbesoft’ of synthetic biology?”

“For the first time, God has competition,” adds Pat Mooney of ETC Group. “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,” said Mooney.

Expect a debate or two surrounding this issue…
 
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