Opinion: On regulation

Innovation is driven, in large part, by access to infrastructure -- if you can't make your own silicon chips, why should we worry about you making your own DNA?

Andrew Ellington
Mar 2, 2011
Rob Carlson had a piece recently in The Scientist on the linkurl:regulation of synthetic biology,;http://www.the-scientist.com/2011/1/1/24/1/ in part due to the supposed threat from the DIY Bio community. This seems to be part of a continuing hysterical exchange over a non-issue. While Carlson does not actively fear monger for dollars, as do others in the community, he does make statements that unfortunately continue to support a view of synthetic biology as a real-world discipline, as opposed to a collective fantasy.
Image: Wikimedia commons, Jacopo Werther
In particular, I take issue with the notion that "There is every reason to expect that garage innovation will be as important to biological technologies as it was to IT..." Without revisiting my usual diatribe over whether the term linkurl:'synthetic biology' is meaningless,;http://ellingtonlab.org/blog/2010/10/19/on-futures/ let's just look at the details of what is possible. Many of the constructs that folks who claim to be synthetic biologists make...
linkurl:Andrew Ellington;http://f1000.com/thefaculty/member/409104261296178 is the Fraser Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Texas at Austin and an F1000 Member since 2001. This piece was adapted from linkurl:an entry on his blog,;http://ellingtonlab.org/blog/2011/01/23/on-regulation/ where he writes about biodefense and synthetic biology, although not necessarily in that order.

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