Technology Doesn’t Sound Like the Problem

Sanjana Ravi, Nicola Patron, Ted Fjällman & Karen Ingram

Though significant technological leaps are still yet to be made, the main obstacles to synthetic biology making the world a better place do not lie in the laboratory. We, as a community of emerging leaders in synbio, must listen with a collective ear, develop socially responsible practices, engage with international agencies that have a mandate to improve lives, and provide a conduit for information on how synbio can be used to addressed local and global problems. We also need to prove that synbio can solve problems faster and better than other approaches, such as genetic modification. By engaging with security, regulatory, and risk assessment communities every step of the way, we can ensure that synbio evolves as a tool for preparedness and societal benefit rather than as a threat. Finally, public engagement is vital to allaying fears of new and emerging biotechnologies: poor usage of the tools is inevitable, but the fear of misuse should not eclipse the promise that synthetic biology holds.