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Less Drama, More Realism

King's College London sociologists Claire Marris and Nikolas Rose work with synthetic biologists at the Centre for Synthetic Biology and Innovation, and they write in New Scientist that it's time to have a real discussion about the pros and cons of synthetic biology, without the accompanying Sturm und Drang. Synthetic biology is "exciting but terrifying. Powerful but scary," they write. The field has "ambitious" goals to produce a relatively easy-to-use toolbox of synthetic parts that can be used to build organisms for varying purposes, they add, but, right now, these are still only goals.

Unfortunately, the dialogue surrounding synthetic biology assumes that these goals have already been met, and focus only on the possible misuses of the technology, Marris and Rose write. "This way of framing discussions is unhelpful," they add. "It is an example of 'speculative ethics' that distracts us from less exciting but more pressing questions." Instead, discussions about synthetic biology should go beyond this and seek to recognize that "the prospects for synthetic biology are likely to be both less sensational and less forbidding than is generally acknowledged," they say.

The Scan

US Booster Eligibility Decision

The US CDC director recommends that people at high risk of developing COVID-19 due to their jobs also be eligible for COVID-19 boosters, in addition to those 65 years old and older or with underlying medical conditions.

Arizona Bill Before Judge

The Arizona Daily Star reports that a judge is weighing whether a new Arizona law restricting abortion due to genetic conditions is a ban or a restriction.

Additional Genes

Wales is rolling out new genetic testing service for cancer patients, according to BBC News.

Science Papers Examine State of Human Genomic Research, Single-Cell Protein Quantification

In Science this week: a number of editorials and policy reports discuss advances in human genomic research, and more.