Synthesizing Life
Rob McGinley Myers, Associate Producer

Interesting article in the New York Times about biologist J. Craig Venter synthesizing the genome of a species of bacteria; the first time this has been done. Some of us on staff have been talking about doing a show that addresses the ethics of biotechnology, but we’re not sure who would make the best voice. One of the more interesting takes on the subject I’ve read was an essay in the New York Review of Books by one of our previous guests Freeman Dyson. He has a surprisingly optimistic point of view about messing with creation, something that science fiction authors have been warning us against at least since Mary Shelley:

"Domesticated biotechnology, once it gets into the hands of housewives and children, will give us an explosion of diversity of new living creatures, rather than the monoculture crops that the big corporations prefer. New lineages will proliferate to replace those that monoculture farming and deforestation have destroyed. Designing genomes will be a personal thing, a new art form as creative as painting or sculpture."

Sometimes my wife and I try to imagine what in the world our kids will do to freak us out in the future, considering how open-minded we think we are. Genetically designing a new pet may just do the trick.

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