British researchers are helping to create “designer” genomes that can be inserted into yeast cells to create new strains of these organisms. They hope these man-made forms of life could eventually be used by the brewing industry to make cheaper – and stronger – beer. The international project adds to work to create the first ever synthetic life form, by building a bacterium genome from scratch.
This is undeniably cool research if you’re into science in general, but might seem more than slightly icky to some when you start to consider the implications.
Mr Willetts said: “Synthetic biology has huge potential for our economy and society in so many areas from life sciences to agriculture.” Synthetic biology, however, has created criticism from those who fear that scientists are “playing God” by attempting to create entirely new forms of life. There are also fears that synthetic life forms could escape into the wild and spread uncontrollably.
I for one welcome our new microbial overlords. Long live Android Ale!