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European bishops’ working group: synthetic biology is not ‘playing God’

January 22, 2016

The Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community’s working group on ethics in research and medicine has issued an opinion paper on synthetic biology.

Synthetic biology “involves the engineering of biological components and systems that do not exist in nature and the re-engineering of existing biological elements,” COMECE noted.

“This new knowledge and power give rise not just to great expectations (some of which are over-hyped) but also to the very real fear that they might be abused to the detriment of humankind and our environment,” the working group stated.

Nonetheless, “contriving to manufacture new biological components and systems is not ‘playing God’ as long as we are careful to respect a Creation that has been entrusted to the intelligence and moral responsibility of men and women and as long as we always allow ourselves to be guided by the search for the common good of humanity,” the working group concluded.

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  • Posted by: loumiamo - Jan. 23, 2016 8:59 AM ET USA

    Rik92vin, ur example of GMO corn is interesting. As I see it, its still corn, it may be GMO, but it's not gms--genetically modified species. If it looks like corn and tastes like corn and can make a good snort of Jim Beam, then it's corn. It ain't a potato, which can only produce inferior Stoly. Long as we get a truly American result, there's never a cause for worry. Relax, kick back, and enjoy a Cardinals win this weekend.

  • Posted by: rik92vin8086 - Jan. 22, 2016 12:53 PM ET USA

    Playing God can mean just about anything, so Im not interested in the cliche. But moving genes between organisms is called a species changing event because it can be. This has already been experienced in altered plant genomes. GMO seeds are planted. Grow. Reproduce. Spread new genes through reproduction. Corn is permanently altered. How much "native" corn exists? Some, I would guess. Is this playing God? However you use the term, we have done something permanent. This is true of animals too.

  • Posted by: garedawg - Jan. 22, 2016 11:08 AM ET USA

    We've been selectively breeding plants and animals for thousands of years. Whoever developed the Chihuahua from the Wolf surely was not playing God!