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Bio-hacking the future
Posted: 7 January 2015

Should we make glow-in-the-dark pets and hornless rhinos? There are arguments for and against this idea. What about eradicating malaria mosquitoes using synthetic genetics? Most Africans would be in favour, but some greenies would oppose it as interfering with nature. There could be unintended consequences to deleting a species.

Whatever your view on the ethics or wisdom of synthetic organisms and life forms, the fact is it's becoming increasingly easier to contemplate these choices, as synthetic biology advances in the lab. One day we might be faced with the possibility of creating mythical creatures that live and breathe straight from a 3D printer!

But in the nearer future, we could synthesize microbes and living organisms like yeast and bacteria that revolutionize industry, for example eating sawdust and excreting diesel, or removing heavy metals from water effluent. Do the obvious benefits outweigh the risk of creating superbugs?

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