What's the Latest Development?

The world will soon see its first examples of synthetic life, said controversial biologist Craig Venter, which will be entirely unique organisms unlike anything known to exist on Earth. The remarks came before Venter delivered a keynote address at Trinity College Dublin as part of the EuroScience Open Forum. "His team are currently designing three different organisms, adding blocks of DNA that have been seen to be essential for sustaining life, he said. They do not know what design will produce a living organism so they decided to produce several."

What's the Big Idea?

Venter's attempts at creating synthetic life have proven difficult because scientists still do not understand the function of many genes currently seen in living organisms. Yet given his team's rate of progress, Venter expects to see synthetic life within a year. "The research would deliver benefits for society, he said. World population was set to grow by two billion over the next decade. That was like adding an extra India to the world population. 'We are a species that are 100 per cent dependent on science.' Advances in technology could increase food production 10 to 100 fold."

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