I am creating artificial life, declares US gene pioneer

Craig Venter, the controversial DNA researcher involved in the race to decipher the human genetic code, has built a synthetic chromosome out of laboratory chemicals and is poised to announce the creation of the first new artificial life form on Earth.

The announcement, which is expected within weeks and could come as early as Monday at the annual meeting of his scientific institute in San Diego, California, will herald a giant leap forward in the development of designer genomes. It is certain to provoke heated debate about the ethics of creating new species and could unlock the door to new energy sources and techniques to combat global warming.

Mr Venter told the Guardian he thought this landmark would be “a very important philosophical step in the history of our species. We are going from reading our genetic code to the ability to write it. That gives us the hypothetical ability to do things never contemplated before”.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Ethics / Moral Theology, Life Ethics, Science & Technology, Theology

17 comments on “I am creating artificial life, declares US gene pioneer

  1. DeeBee says:

    [blockquote]We are trying to create a new value system for life.[/blockquote]
    Well, at least he’s honest about it . . .
    [blockquote] . . . and could unlock the door to new energy sources and techniques to combat global warming.[/blockquote]
    I find it very convenient that news reports manage to pave the way for the “What can it hurt?” crowd by tying ethically questionable research to current hot-button issues.

  2. Larry Morse says:

    How can you all read this and not be frightened to death? I am astounded that this blog can go on as if nothing is changing in the real world. The biogenetic world is moving at an exponential rate, and its sole standard is,”If it can be done it should.”
    That Venter did an “ethical evaluation” is absurd. Here we have the foxes evaluating the rightness of a new device to break into the hen house, and concluding that it is perfectly safe and will improve the health of the chickens. Notice, incidentally, the remark that governments and ethics are way behind the ball.

    Tell me, someone, what is religion going to say when a synthetic life form appears, capable of replicating itself, that Christ died for us all and that everything is possible with God? We have just assumed a true God Function, and we will continue to expand its potential. And its untimate potential is…” What will you say? It’s all TEC’s fault? WE should all pray more often? Science is eating meaning alive, leaving us nothing in our lives but to Consume as a meaning-substitute. Would you like to guess how long it will be before an artificial womb is invented into which gene-spliced eggs can be placed? For Heaven’s sake, look at the real world for once. Mark the dots of genetic advance over the last fifty years, and then draw a line through them to see where the curve goes in the next fifty years.

  3. TheOldHundredth says:

    Have NONE of these people ever read [i]Frankenstein[/i]?

    [url=http://letgodarise.blogspot.com]Let God Arise[/url]

  4. Anglicanum says:

    Can any of these people say “Tower of Babel?” Seriously??

  5. Craig Goodrich says:

    Bacteria could be created, he speculates, that could help mop up excessive carbon dioxide, thus contributing to the solution to global warming, or produce fuels such as butane or propane made entirely from sugar.

    If we convert the CO2 into something else, won’t the something else become a pollutant? If we produce butane or propane, then if we burn it we’re contributing to global warming with greenhouse gases, and if we don’t we’re contributing to smog with airborne hydrocarbons. If we produce it from sugar, we’ve simply reproduced the ethanol problem — it takes more energy to produce than can be recovered by burning.

    Mindless Political Correctness has been eating its own tail for some time now, and is getting very close to the head…

  6. Larry Morse says:

    Is The Guardian a British newspaper? I would like to get a copy of today’s paper. I want to see the actual copy. Larry

  7. Oldman says:

    I Googled Craig Venter and found the J. Craig Venter Institute. I didn’t find where their operating funds come from. I sure hope my tax dollars aren’t supporting this work which I abhor. If they are, I think all us posters should form the Titus One Nine Institute and get funding for studying the biological necessity of posting.

  8. Helen says:

    This is so frightening. From the comments above, it sounds like more people than me actually want to DO something about this. Make some suggestions, please. “Even so, Lord Jesus, quickly come.”

  9. dwstroudmd+ says:

    Whoa! He didn’t get his own dirt! Nor his own program! Nor the original idea! There’s nothing artificial about this! It’s all natural!
    Call when he creates de novo et ex nihilo. Then we can discuss.

  10. DonGander says:

    The terrors of old fiction become the realities of our life. Insanity becomes a substitute for the definition of “brilliant”.

    While this is true and I do not want to take away from the gravity of the evil, does it not seem strange to anyone that there is a man looking for “artificial life” when I have such a hard time finding individuals that have “real lives”?

  11. Oldman says:

    Matt Thompson thank you! I think all of us needed your post to understand the TRUTH of this. Us laymen in a given subject need the truth, not hyberbole. Global Warming comes to mind, also. If a super politician wasn’t pushing it, I might consider the idea. I hope someone like you, but a climatologist, will give us the truth like you just did. Thanks again!

  12. Oldman says:

    Matt, I would like to believe that, also! I’m just as concerned as anybody about the poisoning of our planet as well as the destruction of her natural resources. I have farmed in reclaimed desert land in Egypt and also across the world surrounded by jungles in Malaysia where burning saw grass in Borneo would choke us.

    My point above wasn’t that I don’t believe in Global Warming or years earlier in Perpetual Winter, but I am enough of a practical scientist to understand the complexities of an ecosystem and want an honest (not a politician) climatologist like you, an honest evolutionary biologist, etc, to tell me the truth.

    Thanks again for your original post.

  13. The_Archer_of_the_Forest says:

    The time is 1984…current temperature 451 degrees.

  14. LeightonC says:

    Technically, global warming has been occurring since the last Ice Age, I think 10-15,000 years ago. My concern is when will this warming trend stop.

  15. Larry Morse says:

    #11: Venter has either built a chromosome out of lab chemicals or he has not. If he has not, he is lying. Is he lying? If he has, he has created manufactured life. To have created a chromosome that did not previously exist and to place this chromosome inside a functioning cell so that it replicates, is to create a manufactured life. Can anyone make a cell? Not yet, it appears, but the manufactured chromosome is the essential step. Will Rna respond to this new chromosome? Will new proteins be produced? Obviously, I don’t know, but nevertheless, I find your reponse less than clear if indeed Venter has manufactured a chromosome out of raw materials.Your response says that nothing of substance has happened, and such evidence as I have before me says that something has happened of grave importance. Well, I shall wait to see what SciAm has to say about all this, but the report, if true at its simplest, is a threat and a warning. LM

  16. Larry Morse says:

    I shouldo have added, that if one can in fact, manufacture a chromosome, one can manufacture a gene, and sooner or later this will happen. The crucial portion of my earlier email lies in science’s view of the possible: If it can be done, it should.
    When one considers what science and technology have done to date, this view of “progress” should cause us all to tremble. If you want me to be calm, first show me tha Venter has lied. LM

  17. Larry Morse says:

    Elves, I wish you would somehow leave this entry at the top. This is too important to let slide into oblivion in the archives. Larry