For obvious reasons, the scientific community is jumping for joy at the first ever synthetic life form. From the Guardian:
The new organism is based on an existing bacterium that causes
mastitis in goats, but at its core is an entirely synthetic genome that
was constructed from chemicals in the laboratory.
single-celled organism has four “watermarks” written into its DNA to
identify it as synthetic and help trace its descendants back to their
creator, should they go astray.
The possibilities are quite literally endless if scientists are able to create highly specific life forms and it could lead to a totally new era in how we treat disease:
The team now plans to use the synthetic organism to work out the minimum
number of genes needed for life to exist. From this, new microorganisms
could be made by bolting on additional genes to produce useful
chemicals, break down pollutants, or produce proteins for use in
There are of course ethical issues associated with the creation of artificial life, but given the fact that many of the species we see today are a result of selective breeding (farm animals, pets etc) it is hard to see how it can be labeled ‘immoral’. However, the Dr responsible for the landmark event, Craig Venter, is somewhat of a controversial figure. In the 90’s he attempted to but patents for more than 300 genes ‘raising concerns that the company might claim intellectual rights to
the building blocks of life’. Should this be the case again, expect a grand old bust up over his new endeavor.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.