Synthetic biology is making strides in fields ranging from cancer research to biofuels, but not everyone is excited about its prospects. A group of 111 watchdog and other organizations are calling for a moratorium on synthetic biology research until there is more oversight and governmental regulation, reports ScienceInsider's Elizabeth Pennisi. The group released a report with specific recommendations for "managing new biological techniques for building and remaking organisms for research and commercial uses," she adds. The report calls synthetic biology "an extreme form of genetic engineering" and warns that current regulations are inadequate. Further, the group wants a ban on the use of synthetic biology to manipulate the human genome.
However, critics of the report like the Biotechnology Industry Organization's Brent Erickson, say that while the rules currently in place to regulate synthetic biology may need an upgrade, there are many safeguards in place, Pennisi adds. "[With] the shrillness of its tone and its lack of objectivity, I don't think it's really helpful to policy-makers and the public," Erickson tells Pennisi.
Daily Scan's sister publication, GenomeWeb Daily News, has more on the proposed moratorium here.