The United Nations’ Convention on Biological Diversity recently announced a decision on the part of 194 countries to regulate synthetic biology technology.
Jim Thomas of the ETC Group stated that, “Not only do countries now have to set up the means to regulate synthetic biology, but those regulations need to be based on precaution and not harming the environment.”
As more synthetically engineered products are being developed, many see a potentially dangerous impact on the environment and human health from the expanding technology.
Synthetic biology is an advanced form of genetic engineering that, according to a 2005 European Commission paper, is “…the engineering of biology… the synthesis of complex, biologically based (or inspired) systems which display functions that do not exist in nature.”
In other words; unlike the older science of splicing genes from different species together, synthetic biology is seeking to create whole new organisms that do not exist on earth.
FBI Agent Carmine Nigro told the an MIT conference earlier this year that “These technologies [synthetic biology] do not just pose a risk to individual buildings or cities, but if cleverly deployed, can reduce our population by significant percentages.”
Concerns about the safety of synthetic biology were heightened when a Switzerland-based company called Evolva developed a synthetic vanilla that is set to be released in 2014. The vanilla is created using synthetic biology technology.
Fidelity Investments envisions that within 50 years there will be more life forms invented in a lab than ever identified in nature.