A Call for a Public, Democratically Deliberative Facet in Synthetic Biology Policymaking

Ryan Ritterson

While the synthetic biology community enjoys support from a majority of people aware of its activities, it remains unknown to most of the nation. Further, policy makers do not rely on a coherent vision of synthetic biology in order to make regulatory decisions. This leaves a partial vacuum in the public decision-making capacity for these new technologies that could stunt their development. Creating a unified vision for synthetic biology will require many new approaches and tools, and, because synthetic biology has the potential to change many lives in direct and profound ways, one facet of the vision must be an incorporation of public ideas. To accomplish this, this action plan proposes a public dialogue in the style of a Deliberative Poll, a model used successfully in many nations. The UK held a similar discussion and successfully incorporated its suggestions into its synthetic biology roadmap.