Synthetic Biology

Synthetic biology brings together engineering and the life sciences in order to design and construct new biological parts, devices and systems that do not currently exist in the natural world or to tweak the designs of existing biological systems. Synthetic biologists, engaged in a kind of extreme genetic engineering, hope to construct designer organisms that perform specific tasks such as producing biofuels or other high-value compounds.

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This case study illustrates developments in synthetic biology that could be disrupting the livelihoods of thousands of small farmers who cultivate Artemisia for the plant’s anti-malarial compounds.

At COP 11, government negotiators will  be asked to consider bringing a new and emerging area of industrial activity under the oversight of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Synthetic Biology is a burgeoning technological field that builds artificial genetic systems and programmes lifeforms for industrial use. It urgently requires effective governance.

This briefing details ten key points to consider.
 

In accordance with CBD Decision X/13, paragraph 4, the following paper is submitted to

International effort to address the  food, energy and climate crisis tend to regard technology as an important part of the solution. This optimism about technology also prevails in debates around the Green Economy and international environmental governance. And of course technology does hold some potential solutions to some important problems.

ETC Group groundbreaking report lifts the lid on the emerging global grab on plants, lands, ecosystems, and traditional cultures. The New Biomassters - Synthetic Biology and the Next Assault on Biodiversity and Livelihoods is a critique of what OECD countries are calling 'the new bioeconomy.' Concerted attempts are already underway to shift industrial production feedstocks from fossil fuels to the 230 billion tones of 'biomass' (living stuff) that the Earth produces every year -not just for liquid fuels but also for production of power, che