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article imageOp-Ed: Should a genetics company plan to create new creatures?

By Tim Sandle     Jan 12, 2015 in Science
San Francisco - A San Francisco-based biotech wants to see its technology applied for inventing new organisms. This has raised concerns about so-called “Frankenstein science.”
Cambrian Genomics is a U.S. biotech company that prints custom DNA sequences. According to the company’s founder, Austen Heinz, this is simply just the beginning of what his firm’s technology can achieve. According to The Scientist, Heinz recently told news outlets that he would like to see customers be able to create their own creatures.
According to the website Chemblogger, Austen Heinz recently got "himself in a little bit of claiming that his company's technology would enable (through making synthetic biology cheaper) sensitive body parts* to smell better."
Whether the sweet smelling body parts is progressing is unknown. With the creature creation workshop, speaking with TechRepublic, Heinz is quoted as saying:
“Everything that’s alive we want to rewrite. Everything that’s alive can be made better and more useful to humankind, including human cells. Plants can be made to take out much more carbon out of the atmosphere. We can make humans that are born without disease that can live much longer. We can make humans that can interface directly with computers by growing interfaces into the brain.”
Furthermore, according to a report published in the San Francisco Chronicle, Heinz said there would need to be some ethical checks to make sure nothing “bad” is created. He was keen in the interview to stress, controversially, that should not come from the government. “We wouldn’t want the industry to be regulated. So, ‘How do we democratize creation without killing everyone?’ is basically the question.”
Not everyone is happy with this type of genetic experimentation. Marcy Darnovsky, executive director of the Center for Genetics and Society, told the SF Chronicle that Heinz’s goals of modifying humans should be taken seriously. “I think that technical project is far more complicated than they acknowledge.”
However, Darnovsky went onto remark “Nonetheless, their story about what we should be striving for as human beings, as a society, I think is very troubling.”
Digital Journal will be interested to hear from readers on this subject. Do you think that this type of experimentation is needed or are there dangers? Do you agree with the company’s founder that there should be no government regulation or involvement from a body like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)?
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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