Ethical issues in synthetic biology: a commentary

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This paper provides a brief overview of ethical issues associated with synthetic biology and identifies three ethical challenges to consider in the development and management of synthetic biology. First, the injunction to use synthetic biology for the good of humankind raises questions about who should determine the direction and uses of synthetic biology. This issue is discussed in terms of setting the research agenda. Second, there are questions about the extent to which bioethics is, and ought to be, a ‘critical companion’ for novel and emerging technologies. This question is stimulated by the observation that some of the most cogent criticisms of synthetic biology have come from within the field, rather than from external bioethical critiques. Finally, there are calls for professionalisation as a mechanism for self-regulation regarding ethical behaviour. However, as there are diverse disciplines engaged in synthetic biology, it may be difficult to settle on a single set of agreed professional norms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-44
Number of pages6
JournalMacquarie Law Journal
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher version archived with the permission of the Dean, Division of Law, Macquarie University, NSW, Australia. This copy is available for individual, non-commercial use. Permission to reprint/republish this version for other uses must be obtained from the publisher.


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