“Scientists working to build a life form from scratch have applied to patent the broad method they plan to use to create their “synthetic organism”.”
“Dr Craig Venter, the man who led the private sector effort to sequence the human genome, has been working for years to create a man-made organism.”
“The J Craig Venter Institute’s US patent application claims exclusive ownership of a set of essential genes and a synthetic “free-living organism that can grow and replicate” made using those genes.”
Those for say: “The effort could result in “designer microbes” that produce biofuels such as ethanol, and hydrogen. They could also be engineered to remove carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.”
Those against say: “The company was pressing ahead with its work despite the fact the public had not had the chance to debate the “far-reaching social, ethical and environmental implications”. And that “these monopoly claims signal the start of a high-stakes commercial race to synthesise and privatise synthetic life forms.””
I say: There is no stopping this now. If the 20th century was the century of physics, the 21st century is going to be the century of biology with outbursts in genetic sciences. Expect more tinkering.
Scientists had already assembled the first synthetic virus in 2002.