It seems that scientists plan to create synthetic human genomes. A secret meeting was held on the 10th of May at Harvard University. People from the media were not invited and attendees were asked to not say a word about what was spoken
On Tuesday, about 150 researchers met at Harvard University in great secrecy. Because of this, people were quick to raise ethical question. Rumors about the goal of such a meeting started to pile up immediately, and controversy arose. But George Church, one of the people who organized the conference, says that it is misrepresented. Church says that the meeting was planned to be recorded, even live-streamed. However, because of an unpublished article, the scientists decided to keep it a secret. But ethical considerations have always been discussed, even from the project’s inception state. The main goal of the project is not to create human genomes.
Yet how opened are scientists to this kind of work? Drew Endy from Stanford University, for example, was invited to the meeting, but did not attend. Endy stated that he chose not to accept the invitation because of the few people invited and lacking information regarding the ethical considerations. If even a researcher puts to doubt the motives behind the meeting, what can the general public believe?
Through synthetic genomes, scientists can modify the DNA. This is done by introducing foreign genes. This practice is common in the pharmaceutical industry, in the manufacturing of medicine. But being able to synthesize an entire genome could mean that experts can make further alteration in DNA.
But the main challenge in synthetic genomics is ethics, because the technology allows researchers to modify human embryos. Apart from this, it is also prone to errors.
Is it true that scientists plan to create synthetic human genomes, or is it just that some people like to create controversy? The secrecy behind the project might lead us into thinking that it is a real possibility, but the ethical issue has always been raised, even in the field of research. Can it be that scientists are planning on playing God?
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