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Synthetic Biology: Safety, Security, and Promise
Synthetic biology aims to make biology easier to engineer and to program. Thanks to advances in computing power, the ability to make long tracts of DNA, new tools like CRISPR that can be used to edit genomes, and the enthusiasm of young scientists and even amateurs who want to enter the field, synthetic biology is poised to change the future of medicine, agriculture, and manufacturing. Yet, while this new field promises vast opportunities and benefits, there are also risks. There are biosecurity risks that these technologies will be deliberately used for harm; safety risks to people and the environment; ethical and social considerations for how to apply these technologies; and there are risks to the competitiveness of nations that do not invest in these technologies that are likely to spur economic growth. This volume is dedicated to a discussion of what can be done to minimize risks and maximize the benefits of synthetic biology.