US Scientists Create Synthetic Life: The Ethical Implications

A group of well-known scientists in Rockville, MD, have succeeded in transplanting synthetic bacterial DNA into a host cell. This landmark discovery presents several ethical implications for the field, as it advances the capacity for scientists to create life from nonliving material.

This morning’s BBC News article presents several different ways to consider this announcement, ranging from a matter of everyday science, to something much more extraordinary.

What actions should be taken now to make sure that potential hazards are considered and avoided later? How important are semantics in describing this discovery—should the public be referring to ‘artificial life,’ or something less sensational? How might scientists achieve a balance between advancement and ethics?