ethics in science and technology
SYNTHETIC BIOLOGYThis emerging scientific field aims to use our knowledge of genetics and molecular biology to design and construct biological parts and devices to our own design, that would work in living organisms. These would be used to re-design parts of natural living organisms, to adapt them to purposes useful to us, say in medicine or energy. These organisms are 'synthetic' in the sense that we have put new parts in them. It's like making engineering parts or electrical circuits, but using biological 'components'. Some call the parts BioBricks. Synthetic biology merges genetics and cell science - like our ability to make up DNA sequences - with processes of miniaturisation in engineering and computing. It starts with existing genetic modification but goes much further.
Democs Card Game : Public Engagement on Synthetic Biology
Most scientists recognise that these ideas, and their possible applications, raise ethical and social issues which we need to discuss together as a society. To help this process, Edinethics did a public engagement exercise for ESRC Genomics Forum and the Scottish Government, using a card game format called Democs. The full report of this engagement are now available to download and a summary on the Genomics Forum website. more on the results ...
The Democs game concept was first created by the New Economics Foundation in 2001 on stem cells, and Democs games have since been made for a wide variety of issues from cloning to climate change. Dr Bruce was one of the original consultants on the Democs project and has created games on GM food (for the GM Nation? debate) and nanobiotechnologies. Building on this experience and the expertise of scientists and social scientists in the SynBioStandards network , and Perry Walker of the New Economics Foundation have created a Democs game on synthetic biology, which is now available as a free download.
We are looking for groups of 6-8 people in Scotland to play the game. Would you be interested? If so email us at Edinethics.
To find out more about the Democs game, click on What is Democs?