For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 
Contact: 

Scott Baumgartner, office 202-222-0751, sbaumgartner@foe.org
Eric Hoffman, office 202-222-0747, mobile 443-465-2219, ehoffman@foe.org

Venter Takes Genetic Engineering to 'Extreme New Level'

First organism with entirely synthetic DNA jeopardizes ecosystems and human health

WASHINGTON - Today, the J. Craig Venter Institute announced the creation of the first living organism with an entirely synthetic genome.

Friends of the Earth's genetic technology policy campaigner, Eric Hoffman, responded:

"Craig Venter's lab has taken genetic engineering to an extreme new level. These new synthetic chromosomes mimic billions of years of evolution.

"We must ensure that strong regulations are in place to protect the environment and human health from this potentially dangerous new technology. We are far from actually understanding how genes affect the development of life, but it could be difficult to prevent Venter's synthetic biology experiments from eventually entering the natural ecosystem and acting as invasive species, choking out natural living things.

"The Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration must receive this announcement as a warning bell, signifying that the time has come for our government to fully regulate all synthetic biology experiments and products. It is imperative that in the pursuit of scientific experimentation, we do not sacrifice human health, the environment, and natural ecosystems. Mr. Venter should stop all further research until sufficient regulations are in place."

 

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