Synthetic biology may be the most important and promising area of applied genetics. Using gene splicing and manufacturing techniques, this rapidly growing area of the life sciences promises to help improve our food, reduce the burden of agriculture on the environment, create life forms that can act as powerful vaccines and medicines, find ways to produce energy and reduce pollution, and even to engineer animals and human beings. The resulting ethical challenges are enormous and were recently highlighted in the "Neanderthal babies" media storm. This lecture considers key issues in this new field, including safety, the use of technology as a weapon, the morality of creating new life forms, and accountability for accidents and mistakes.

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