As part of our Ethics and Human Practices project, we created a series of podcasts that analyze the benefits and consequences of the new and emerging field of Synthetic Biology. Currently, our series of podcasts consists of three episodes: Synthetic Life, The Consequences of Open Source Biology and Genetically Modified Foods. We have covered content in these podcasts and targeted them at the general public in the hopes of raising awareness, clearing up misconceptions, and educating others about the field of Synthetic Biology. We felt this was necessary after reading some of the reactions the public had in regards to Craig Venter’s ‘creation’ of synthetic life this summer. The podcasts offer unbiased and easy to understand subject matter presented in a very accesible manner.

Synthetic Life

When Craig Venter created the first synthetic self-replicating life, media outlets did a very poor job of publicizing this news, often overemphasizing and exaggerating the original findings of the Venter lab. This put a lot of fear in the public’s perception of Synthetic Biology. This podcast covers Venter’s Synthetic Bacteria, and analyzes the ethical implications of his achievement from a scientific and unbiased perspective.

Listen to it here! - Transcript here

The Consequences of Open-Source Biology

In this podcast, we begin with the structure, foundations, and history of iGEM and the Registry of Parts. We transition to focus on the implications of the open-source nature of iGEM, and what implications this will have in developing synthetic biology. The podcast is wrapped up with our experiences from our visit to DRDC Suffield and the opinions of experts in the field.

Listen to it here! - Transcript here

Genetically Modified Foods

The advantages and disadvantages of genetically modified foods are discussed. The role that Synthetic Biology plays in genetically modified foods is also analyzed.

Listen to it here! - Transcript here