On May 20, 2010, the J. Craig Venter Institute announced the creation of the “first self-replicating synthetic cell”. This announcement was accompanied by a publication in the journal Science and was followed by international media attention. Several key questions emerged that deserve the attention of academics and policy makers internationally:
- How might this technology be taken as the beginning of a new industrial revolution?
- What might be the consequences of this technology, and who might be its beneficiaries and risk-bearers?
- To what extent is synthetic biology the first breakthrough technology that follows in-depth ethical analysis and debate, and has the analysis and debate been sufficient?
- Can policy makers and regulators keep up with future technological developments in the field, and what tools would be helpful to them to improve their abilities to keep up?
On September 30, 2011, the University of Ottawa’s Institute for Science, Society and Policy (ISSP) hosted Synthetic Biology at the Interface of Science and Policy in order to promote a discussion of these questions. As part of the 24th annual conference of Les Entretiens du Centre Jacques Cartier, this one-day event brought together experts from academia, industry and government to discuss the science of synthetic biology as well as its legal, ethical, social, economic and political implications. The colloquium involved supporters and critics of this new technology. The event was held in English with simultaneous French translation.
The official website of the event (external link)