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Great question! - I'm glad that folks are thinking about safety, and that it's part of the conversation here.

Earlier this Summer I was invited to attend the FBI/DIYBio outreach event in Walnut Creek, CA. (Disclosure: I'm co-founder of http://synbiota.com - we provide web-based tools and crowd-innovation environment for SynBio) Of course, one of the biggest take-aways from this meeting is that very special attention needs to be payed to how we manage safety.

The simple fact is that right now the ability to create a "Select Agent" (catch-all term for bad biological things) from scratch using this technology is currently out of reach of anyone in the DIYBio scene. That said, it may be just a matter of time until technology gets to the point where it is possible.

There are positive uses for having access to DNA code for a Select Agent, e.g. creating a bio-sensor that will warn us against contamination, or creating an antidote to the offending agent, so it may not be in our interest to completely ban this DNA code.

The good news is that in SynBio we've not created anything from scratch - all that we know comes cribbed from Mother Nature's recipes. Knowing this, each biologic has it's own DNA signature that can be used to screen out any potentially dangerous projects before they are synthesized.

This is just scratching the surface of this question. A great resource to learn about the ethics surrounding SynBio is the SynBio Project by the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars: http://www.synbioproject.org

Interesting side: When we were at the FBI/DIYBio outreach event we all received a deck of Pokemon-style "Select Agent" playing cards, which are pretty unique. We have some pics of them posted on our blog: http://synbiota.posterous.com/tag/playingcards

Some people think these cards are a bit creepy, while other's can't get enough of them! I'd love to hear HN's thoughts on this!




We actually have created a few things from scratch. Specifically I'm thinking of Top7, a protein that a friend of mine works on: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Top7

Protein design is an exciting field.


Indeed it is! I did not know about this project - thanks for the link.




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