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Synthetic Biology: Ethical Dilemmas

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A broad definition of synthetic biology is “the design and construction of new biological parts, devices and systems, and the re-design of existing natural biological systems for useful purposes” (Heavey. 2013) Synthetic biologists main goal is to engineer naturally occurring biological systems, by re-building them from the ground up, removing some of their complex nature and reducing their unpredictability, to produce controlled, autonomous systems readily available for advantageous use by humans. Examples of which include but are not limited to: New medical technologies, food production and fuel development. (Kaebnick et al. 2014, Heavey 2013) Synthetic biology offers the prospect of significant benefits to humanity. However, it also raises some important ethical concerns. The four main concerns that have gathered utmost attention from bioethicists are: (1) concerns that the act of altering naturally occurring systems is ‘playing god’, (2) that producing systems that will function like computers is undermining the distinction between living organisms and computers, (3) concerns about the deliberate misuse of knowledge from synthetic biology to create powerful weapon systems, and (4) That synthetic biology is putting a patency on naturally occurring biological systems, and only benefit the economic interests of those able to invest (Douglas & Savulescu 2010,…show more content…
This can be understood as the dilemma arising when scientific knowledge has the ability to eliminate certain problems but gives rise to problems of its own. Such as the view of moving away from the natural evolution of the world to an engineered world. Despite these difficulties, the discussion between conservation of natural biological systems and those synthesized must take place. It should not be based upon any bias, and have the sole purpose of limiting our impact on the earth whilst enhancing our ability to use and manipulate its resources (Redford et al.
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