People want say in debate over synthetic life

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Washington, June 14 (ANI): People are becoming increasingly comfortable with the idea of 'synthetically creating life' but only if the procedure is properly regulated, concluded a report.

The dialogue on synthetic life began in late 2009 and was commissioned by the two UK research councils responsible for funding what has been dubbed "synthetic biology".

Apart from understanding how the manufacturing process works, people also want confirmation that the process will reap tangible benefits.

They want the process to be ethical with consideration for social values as well as scientific merit.

"We want the science to flourish," the BBC quoted Professor Paul Freemont, co-director of the UK centre for Synthetic Biology at Imperial College London, as saying.

He added: "but we also want it to be acccepted. We want the public to engage with it, understand it and also to influence it".

This is the first time when the public is engaging directly with scientific research, and understandably so, considering its world impact.

"We are dealing here with the emergence of a very new culture which is taking biology to where it's always wanted to go," said author Dr Brian Johnson.

"We have spent the past thousand years learning how organisms work and interact. What synthetic biology is attempting to do is to not just take organisms apart but to put them together in a new way.

"So this is a real quantum leap in science which people have described as the second industrial revolution," he added.

Roland Jackson, chief executive of the British Science Association, said: "The concept of the synthetic and the natural are difficult oppositions for the public and scientists need to be aware of that."

"But I don't think they should be over-sensitive to it. They should say what they mean and mean what they say and I think the public respects an honest and open approach to this," he added. (ANI)

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