-- Claire Marris and Nikolas RoseMost ethical, policy and media discussions about synthetic biology start from the assumption that these aims have already been achieved: that biology has become easy to engineer for whatever ends we choose, that the toolbox is available to any student or potential terrorist, that dangerous organisms and powerful bioweapons are easy to make, and that no effective regulation is possible. The ability of synthetic biologists to overcome serious scientific and technological challenges is taken for granted, and the economic, legal, social and political conditions for the uptake of these technologies are ignored.Commentators instead focus on potential reckless use or misuse, overestimate the pathogenic possibilities, and worry about deep questions such as: "Do we have the right to play God?". These worries are the flip side of grand claims about synthetic biology's imminent ability to solve challenges in health, environment and energy. Utopias and dystopias seem to be the only scenarios possible.This way of framing discussions is unhelpful.
More heat than light, perhaps, in the yuck factor reaction to three-person IVF.