When we gathered at the Kavli Futures Symposium, researchers among the best in their fields in areas such as nanoscience, physics, biology, materials science and engineering met to share their expertise and brainstorm on one of the most promising yet controversial fields facing science today, said Cees Dekker, professor of molecular biophysics in the Kavli Institute of NanoScience at the Delft University of Technology. That we not only achieved a consensus, but resolved to issue a unanimous statement on the critical importance of this field is significant.
The statement also addresses the uncertainties of synthetic biology. As with any powerful technology, the promise comes with risk. We need to develop protective measures against accidents and abuses of synthetic biology. A system of best practices must be established to foster positive uses of the technology and suppress negative ones. The risks are real; but the potential benefits are truly extraordinary.
The statements recommendations include creation of a professional organization that will engage with the broader society to maximize the benefits, minimize the risks, and oversee the ethics of synthetic life.
This is a critical moment for synthetic biology, said Paul McEuen, professor of physics, Cornell University. The choices facing us now the scientific investments we make and the rules we set down to govern the field will impact society for decades to come.
The symposium was sponsored by The Kavli Foundation and co-hosted and organized by The Kavli Institute at Cornell for Nanoscience and The Kavli Institute of Nanoscience at Delft University of Technology. This is the first of a series of unique symposia that focus on the trends, challenges and opportunities for future scientific research, said David Auston, president of the Kavli Foundation. By emphasizing a forward looking pers
Contact: Blaine Friedlander
Cornell University News Service