To Craig, a daughter

Welcome, Cynthia, and your many offspring! We’ve been expecting you.

“Cynthia” - the world's first artificial life form

We can expect indignation of both the righteous and pig-ignorant kinds following the success of Craig Venter and his team of geneticists in creating the world’s first self-replicating artificial genome, hosted in the cellular sack of a natural bacterium.

Artificial life? Yep. Playing God? Rubbish; this is just biology, taken a step further. Despite the protestations of religious leaders, environmental luddites and the terminally stupid, Craig Venter is no divine, nor is he a demon hell-bent on perverting the sanctity of life for personal financial gain. Venter’s “private corporation” is in reality a not-for-profit independent research institute that receives funding from myriad sources.

This is a hugely important scientific development, and the creation of “Cynthia” a landmark. Mistakes will likely be made in the industrial-scale biological engineering made possible by the creation of artificial life and other forms of genetic engineering, but the potential benefits are many. The challenge will be to develop appropriate ethical and regulatory frameworks to deal with the inevitable issues that arise from such scientific advances.

Congratulations to Craig Venter and his colleagues.

Further reading: Gibson et al., “Creation of a bacterial cell controlled by a chemically synthesized genome”, Science (2010)