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'Synthetic Biology' Holds Promise, But Vigilance Needed

By USA Today

December 17, 2010

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Far more promise than peril lurks in "synthetic biology," the emerging technology of man-made life, a presidential panel reported yesterday.

Aimed at providing humanity with cheaper drugs, fuel and food, the technology also carries with it fears of bioengineered super-plagues should one of these new life forms escape from the lab.

In May, President Obama called for the panel report after researchers reported in the journal Science that they had inserted a man-made genetic blueprint into a bacteria, which then reproduced with the new genes. "It is vital that we as a society consider, in a thoughtful manner, the significance of this kind of scientific development," Obama wrote, requesting the report.

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