2 January 2018

The bright side of synthetic biology and Crispr

Sonia Ben Ouagrham-Gormley

Sonia Ben Ouagrham-Gormley is an associate professor in the School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs at George Mason University. She is the author of Barriers to Bioweapons: The...


Long-standing fears surrounding synthetic biology have recently been rekindled by the discovery of the gene-editing technique Crispr. As with previous advances in biology, Crispr is sometimes characterized as a blueprint for bioweapons development or bioterrorism, and it has elicited calls for increased control and regulation of science. But while it is important to examine the potential dangers of emerging technologies, reaching a balanced assessment of risks and benefits requires that technologies’ potential to improve human life be appreciated as well. Synthetic biology and Crispr offer a potentially enormous package of benefits, spanning from medicine to energy to agriculture and beyond. Discussions about the security and safety of synthetic biology and Crispr should not obscure these technologies’ potential to address a wide variety of complex and pressing problems. Read this new article in the January/February issue of our digital Journal.