Scientists at Harvard talk privately about creating a synthetic human genome
via Flickr - Mars P.

Scientists at Harvard talk privately about creating a synthetic human genome

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Earlier in the week around 150 scientists, lawyers and entrepreneurs from around the world met at Harvard University Medical School to talk about the possibility of creating a synthetic human genome using chemicals to manufacture DNA. In layman's terms, they were talking about the possibility of "creating" human cells that had no biological origins. That's one step away from creating a human with no biological parents. Their proposed timeline was to get there in 10 years. 

Attendees of the meeting were told not to share details to social media or contact the press, because they wanted everyone to feel free to discuss radical ideas. 

Around the same time the meeting was reportedly taking place other prominent scientists were denouncing the meeting, saying a topic of such importance shouldn't be discussed in secret. "For example, would it be OK to sequence and then synthesize Einstein's genome? If so how many Einstein genomes would it be OK to make and install in cells, and who could get to make and control these cells?"

Harvard genetics professor George Church, who organized the meeting, said "They’re painting a picture which I don’t think represents the project."

Taking a step back it's hard not to get kinda deep. The scientific revolution and bold scientific endeavors are probably more responsible for how far humanity has come than any other factor. It wasn't literature that got us to the moon. And it's not unheard of to overreact to bold scientific assertions. Just ask Galileo. 

At the same time, science can and has been used for evil. And if you feel the need to have a conversation around genetic manipulation in secret, it might be because the conversation you are having isn't so great.

So what do you think in this case - #HailScience or #DamnScience?

The Votes Are In!
Pay no attention to the scientists behind the curtain!
Drew Endy (@DrewEndy), a prominent Stanford scientist, and Laurie Zoloth of Northwestern University have lead the criticism of the meeting so far.
More than anything,
Science can be an ugly process of failure and misunderstanding. Perhaps this is another example of it. George Church was the lead organize of the Harvard event.
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