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Current Activities of the Online Forum on Synthetic Biology

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Joaquim A. Machado, Visiting Professor, Institute of Biomedical Sciences. University of São Paulo. Brazil [#8476]
Dear participants,

I agree on the fact that we should not dedicate specific efforts on the modification of the current definition mainly because the scientific and technological vector never stops at some point in the evolution of things. Once again we should keep in mind comments from Kevin Kelly about "What Technology Wants". It is Coevolution, and then the responsibilities of this ATHEG and all other regulatory bodies is to recognise the positive impacts and prevent or remediate those negative impacts, always on the basis of solid evidences.

We also should take in account that any good definition of Synthetic Biology would include the future and the speed of the coming future. In this sense I think that the current definition looks to the past and to the present, but should, at least in our forecasting, include the near future of the integration of Artificial Intelligence and Artificial Biology. Living things will be hybrids, or new entities, always coevolving with the current biodiversity.Machine Learning by Machine Learning, Emergence of Awareness etc are not fiction anymore. Its already part of the "coevolving biodiversity".

As per the new genomic tools, I invite you to appreciate the fact that an amazing opportunity opened by Gene Editing is - far beyond applied areas as clinical solutions, new products etc - the ability of using Gene Editing as a tool for inserting and operating logic gates in biological cells. (Boles et al, Nature Biotechnology; doi:10.1038/nbt.3859); (Song et al, Nature Communications;doi:10.1038/ncomms14737); (Gander et al, Nature Communications;doi:10.1038/ncomms15459).

A clever and forwarding definition of Synthetic Biology should take all these advances in consideration. And propositions of "stringent regulatory restrictions" are a moving backwards with no practical effects.

Wish you all the best,

Joaquim
posted on 2017-07-09 15:10 UTC by Mr. Joaquim A. Machado, Brazil
This is a reply to 8476 RE: Joaquim A. Machado, Visiting Professor, Institute of Biomedical Sciences. University of São Paulo. Brazil [#8480]
Prof. Joaquim,

I wish to express my view here.
[Propositions of "stringent regulatory restrictions" are a moving backwards with no practical effects]

- In every field we do have stringent regulations. Starting from traffic, tax, export and import etc., hence, in synthetic biology too we need stringent regulations taking care of biodiversity and the welfare of common man without which not just synthetic biology any other field of science may lose its charm.

thanks
posted on 2017-07-10 08:28 UTC by Ms. Jeshima k Yasin, India
This is a reply to 8480 RE: Joaquim A. Machado, Visiting Professor, Institute of Biomedical Sciences. University of São Paulo. Brazil [#8481]
Dear Ms. Yasin,

thank you very much for your comments.

I absolutely agree with strict stringent regulations when a priori serious risks and potential damage are forecasted or detected, this for all areas of human activities.

However, Science and Technology never operated based on a par default adoption of strict stringent regulations. While we get distracted by suppositions without a robust scientific basis, we lose opportunities to see the amazing advancing of  technological areas even beyond synthetic biology, already creating new organisms.

If we completely backward the many years of discussions about the strict stringent precautionary approach, as seen in the GMO's case, we will again realise that Science and Technology is an irreversible vector.

Before 2012 Gene Editing was almost a technological dream. If we had adopted strict stringent regulation or even a moratorium, would we have now Gene Editing ? Yes or not, the answer is clear, anyway.

I reaffirm that I absolutely respect the adoption of strict stringent regulations when necessary. But a straight recommendation of adopting strict stringent regulations as a default for Synbio will, again, let us to the GMOs movie we have seen.

Just to come in partial support of your proposal, I DO NOT see robust efforts by countries which adopted GMOs in relation to set the real  economic impacts to local economies, does not matter the conclusions obtained. However, we always see the same old cautions about potential disasters for human health, biodiversity and so on.

All the best,

Joaquim
posted on 2017-07-10 14:14 UTC by Mr. Joaquim A. Machado, Brazil
This is a reply to 8481 RE: stringent regulations [#8482]
Prof. Joaquim,

I too agree that, stringent regulations should be applied while it reaches the environment or the common man not at the stage of research or in confined condition. As earlier discussed by many members, it requires case by case approach. With stringent regulations also we can have progress in science.

Thanks a lot for partial support of the proposal.
posted on 2017-07-10 14:34 UTC by Ms. Jeshima k Yasin, India