On December 15th, Waag's Open Wetlab evening will host master students from the VU University, who will organize three citizen dialogues about controversies related to the use of synthetic biology (synbio). The aim of the dialogue sessions is to expose the opinions, fears, concerns, perceived opportunities and dreams of citizens when it comes to the use of synthetic biology.
Synthetic biology opens up a realm of possibilities in building new forms of life that could help our society tackle (future) challenges. Examples include the manufacturing of synthetic antibiotics to combat the growing crisis in antibiotic resistance, and the production of renewable energy products that could replace conventional energy sources. Also, with a new powerful synbio-technology, known as CRISPR, researchers are now able to manipulate the DNA of embryos in a dish to learn about the earliest stages of human development.
Despite the many possibilities that synthetic biology seems to offer us, critical voices are also heard. Currently, the benefits, risks and long-term effects of synbio applications are still largely unknown. What if synthetic organisms escape into the environment? Could they disrupt ecosystems? And what if the manipulation of DNA in embryos will be used to fix mutations related to human inheritable diseases, or to influence human traits? It raises questions such as: “to what extend are we allowed to manipulate and create new forms of life?” and “what role should synthetic biology have in our (future) society?”.
To explore these questions, three open dialogue sessions will be held, each focusing on a different synbio sub-topic (i.e. antibiotics, renewable energy, CRISPR baby) .
Come join one of the open sessions to share and exchange your views with others. Entrance is free.
18.00 – 19.30 Dialogue session on synbio & “the CRISPR baby”
Dialogue session on synbio & renewable energy
20.00 – 21.30 Dialogue session on synbio & antibiotics