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Intervention by Denise Caruso Read Intervention by Denise Caruso, Executive Director of the Hybrid Vigor Silver Award Winner, 2007 Independent Publisher Book Awards; Best Business Books 2007, Strategy+Business Magazine


by ~ December 31, 2008.
Permalink | Filed under: Hybrid Vigor.

Kudos to the synthetic biology community and MIT’s public relations department for getting the iGEM competition on the Lehrer News Hour. You can listen to the podcast here.

I was happy to hear that amidst all the enthusiasm, some rational voices were also given air time. One of them was Roger Brent, director of the Molecular Sciences Institute (on whose board of trustees I serve), who said,

Reluctantly, no I don’t trust them [amateur bioengineers] to regulate themselves.  I don’t see it as plausible that a person, perhaps even a teenager, would be allowed to build and release an animal virus that could be transmitted human-to-human. The kind of regulation I’m talking about can only happen at a national level and it only makes sense if its done in concert with harmonized regulation in other countries. This is exactly the model of drivers’ licenses, pilots’ licenses, radio operators licenses.

Another was Jason Bobe, the “director of community” for the Personal Genome Project, who said,

By having an organization that wants to promote on the one hand, innovation, education, and learning, its also a great opportunity for us [DIYbio.org] to help be innovators in regulatory policy and safety too.

Couldn’t agree more. If we are smart enough to start engineering organisms, we are also  smart enough by now to stop being black-and-white about regulating innovation. There are lots of ways to fashion policy that support innovation and protect the public at the same time — we just need to start talking openly and honestly about them. The sooner the better.

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