For opponents of genetically modified crops, the possibility that scientists could soon create entirely new life forms out of synthetic DNA may provoke similar worries and safety concerns. Recent improvements in technology have made the lab creation of complex DNA strands possible, and some researchers intend to use them to manufacture new life forms — in one case as early as next year. Synthetic DNA has already been used to modify existing life forms to create high-tech fabrics from cornstarch and turn food into biofuels more efficiently. But the pending creation of totally new life forms has caused quite a stir in some circles. While philosophers and ethicists opine on the implications, others are worried about new bacteria and other potential creations. “Ultimately synthetic biology means cheaper and widely accessible tools to build bioweapons, virulent pathogens, and artificial organisms that could pose grave threats to people and the planet,” said a concerned Canada-based advocacy group. “The danger is not just bio-terror but bio-error.”

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