The creation of genetically modified and entirely synthetic organisms continues to generate excitement as well as worry.

HMS logo news 26th Jan 2015

No Escape

Biological safety lock for genetically modified organisms

By STEPHANIE DUTCHEN
January 21, 2015

Scientists have genetically recoded a strain of <I>E. coli</i> to depend on a synthetic amino acid so the bacteria can’t survive outside the lab. Image: Jennifer HinkleScientists have genetically recoded a strain of E. coli to depend on a synthetic amino acid so the bacteria can’t survive outside the lab. Image: Jennifer Hinkle

The creation of genetically modified and entirely synthetic organisms continues to generate excitement as well as worry.

Such organisms are already churning out insulin and other drug ingredients, helping produce biofuels, teaching scientists about human disease and improving fishing and agriculture. While the risks can be exaggerated to frightening effect, modified organisms do have the potential to upset natural ecosystems if they were to escape.

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