Don’t shut the door on the synthetic biology debate

8 May 2014

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SynBio has always skated along what Drew Endy calls the "half-pipe of doom", between a controlled biological utopia and an exploding biological disaster. Its enthusiasts, Endy included, make grand claims for the power of engineered biological machines and parts, bespoke genomes and xenonucleic acid (xDNA) to both create and solve major problems. The reality is likely to be more mundane, but the untold hype and terror have been allowed to shape the debate, writes Dr Jack Stilgoe (UCL Science and Technology Studies) in The Guardian.