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Synthetic-Conservation Biology Disconnect

There's a lack of understanding between synthetic and conservation biologists, Yale Environment 360 writes.

While synthetic biologists hail tools like gene drives as an approach that can help protect corals from bleaching, bats from disease, and eradicate disease-carrying mosquitoes, conservation biologists have called the approach a potentially dangerous method and say it should not be used.

Part of this disconnect comes down to a knowledge gap between the two arms of biology, Yale Environment 360 says — one conservation biologist has said that genetics and molecular biology "were the courses we flunked." Stanford University's Drew Endy notes that it also goes the other way and there is "symmetric ignorance."

Endy and others have been working on bringing the two disparate fields together, Yale Environment 360 writes. Endy invited conservation biologists like Kent Redford to speak about biodiversity at a synthetic biology meeting, and Redford has written that conservation biologists need to adapt and bring in synthetic biologists to their discussions.

Conservationists "absolutely must engage with the synthetic biology community," Redford tells Yale Environment 360, "and if we don't do so it will be at our peril."

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