- News Home
5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
- About Us
Gene Synthesis Companies Pledge to Foil Bioterrorists
19 November 2009 6:06 pm
Advances in synthetic biology have prompted fears that terrorists might develop biological weapons by purchasing made-to-order DNA sequences from gene synthesis companies and using them to engineer deadly pathogens. Five of the world's leading gene synthesis companies today announced steps they are already implementing—or plan to implement—a plan to prevent misuse of the technology. The announcement comes amid calls for tougher government controls on the field of synthetic genomics.
The companies, which make up what they call the International Gene Synthesis Consortium, already examine purchase orders to ensure that they are not supplying customers with genomes of pathogens that many governments consider as potential threats to biosecurity. The consortium's members now plan to strengthen this procedure by screening orders against a database they say will be more comprehensive.
In addition, the companies have committed to screening clients to confirm their identities and ensure that the clients are permitted by their governments to possess the sequences they've requested. And the companies will keep all records of orders, screenings, and deliveries for at least 8 years to assist law enforcement if necessary.
"Gene synthesis itself provides us with powerful new opportunities to combat the threat of bioterrorism," Jeremy Minshull, president of DNA2.0—a consortium member, said in a press release. "We won't tolerate attempts to misuse gene synthesis technology to threaten the safety of any community."