Synthetic biology is an amazing (or terrifying, depending upon your point of view) new field in which scientists (and students) sort of approach biology like engineering: redesigning existing biology or designing wholly novel biology to produce useful outcomes in areas like health, food, or industry. With tools like the now-famous CRISPR-Cas9, people can edit DNA in relatively easy and precise ways. Researchers have used synthetic biology techniques to engineer rice to produce beta-carotene and to engineer plants that have physical reactions in the presence of toxins. Scientists have also created entirely synthetic genomes. The implications of this capability are profound, pointing to vast and rapidly evolving possibilities in how we make food, medicines, and feedstocks for industry. It also very much points to a future ability to design tailored pathogens as well as entirely synthetic ecosystems.
So, if you are thinking about the next ten years, spend at least a little effort to better understand: a) how synthetic biology may affect your upstream supply chains in the next few years; b) how an emerging development in synthetic biology could disrupt some practice or system in your industry, and; c) how a broadening array of individuals might access these tools (as is already happening) to experiment and pursue their own solutions. Like Number 1, Climate Change, developments in synthetic biology have the potential to have systemic impacts, and in a very short period of time.
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