Current ethical issues in synthetic biology: Where should we go from here?

26 November 2014

Synthetic Biology (SynBio) is an emerging scientific field which has quickly established momentum and visibility. Although no single definition of SynBio prevails, the field broadly encompasses the application of engineering principles to biology; re-designing biological materials and using them as new substrates to create products and entities not otherwise found in nature. This paper first reviews SynBio, highlighting the novel aspects of this technology. It then synthesises ethical issues highlighted in the literature to date and makes some initial claims that research on the ethical aspects of SynBio should: avoid creating a new sub-type of bioethics, concentrate on novel concepts and problems and be situated within a context of cooperative inter-disciplinary investigation. Keywords: Synthetic biology, ethical issues, regulation, creating life.