Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Royal Society and Synthetic Biology

I was gratified to see a healthy turn-out for the Cafe Scientifique event yesterday evening, and pleased by the range and depth of questions that were asked. I briefly mentioned at the end of the Q&A session that the Royal Society (the UK's preeminent learned society for the sciences) is soliciting views on the emerging field of synthetic biology.

The field's potential impact is huge, not just in terms of technological developments and scientific understanding, but in terms of social impact, legal issues and ethical concerns. It is vital that scientists engage with the wider community, so that the implications of their work may be considered at an early stage (and, indeed, throughout). The Royal Society is therefore asking for submissions (ranging from brief comments to draft discussion documents) on various aspects of synthetic biology, from potential applications to biosecurity risks and governance.

These exercises offer a real opportunity to help shape future policy, so I would encourage potentially interested parties to visit the call website and consider adding their voice to the debate. The deadline for submissions is August 27th.