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Constructing Life Creates Questions of Ethics

Scientists are getting closer to creating artificial life in the lab. But is society ready for custom-made organisms? Synthetic biology has the potential to dramatically change fields from agriculture to medicine to zoology. But how will society cope with the ability for a lone researcher to — for example — build a polio virus from scratch in a private lab?

Paul Rabinow, author of Making PCR: A Story of Biotechnology, and Drew Endy, an MIT professor of biological engineering, talk with guest host Joe Palca about the promise and potential perils of synthetic biology. What protections need to be in place as research proceeds?

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