With his statements about synthetic biology, Craig Venter "is sparking controversy once again," says a Washington Post magazine article. Venter tells the Post's Susan Okie that the "tubs of dark green goop" researchers are growing in the greenhouses of Synthetic Genomics, a company he founded in 2005, will eventually eliminate the world's dependence on oil as a fuel source. Further, Venter says synthetic biology will help solve "all the things that are causing a lot of problems now in the world." Venter's claims, naturally, evoke a variety of responses. Bruce Alberts, editor-in-chief of Science, tells Okie that while Venter takes risks and works on difficult projects, he "hypes whatever he does. ... He creates a storm around himself and often in ways that scientists like myself don't consider appropriate." While Nobel-laureate Hamilton Smith tells Okie he was unsure what to think of Venter when they first met and began working together in the 1990s, "we seemed to hit it off pretty well." Smith has continued to work with Venter, and leads the synthetic biology and bioenergy groups at the J. Craig Venter Institute.
Aug 11, 2011