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September 11 , 2009

Synthetic Biology

Character and Impact


Synthetic Biology is already an object of intensive debate. However, to a great extent the discussion to date has been concerned with fundamental ethical, religious and philosophical questions. By contrast, based on an investigation of the field’s scientific and technological character, this book focuses on new functionalities provided by synthetic biology and explores the associated opportunities and risks. Following an introduction to the subject and a discussion of the most central paradigms and methodologies, the book provides an overview of the structure of this field of science and technology. It informs the reader about the current stage of development, as well as topical problems and potential opportunities in important fields of application.

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But not only the science itself is in focus. In order to investigate its broader impact, ecological as well as ethical implications will be considered, paving the way for a discussion of responsibilities in the context of a field at a transitional crossroads between basic and applied science. In closing, the requirements for a suitable regulatory framework are discussed.

The book is intended as a source of information and orientation for researchers, students and practitioners in the natural sciences and technology assessment; for members of scientific and technological, governmental and funding institutions; and for members of the general public interested in essential information on the current status, prospects and implications of synthetic biology.

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