Finding Hope in Synthetic Biology

Camb Q Healthc Ethics. 2017 Apr;26(2):239-245. doi: 10.1017/S0963180116000839.


For some, synthetic biology represents great hope in offering possible solutions to many of the world's biggest problems, from hunger to sustainable development. Others remain fearful of the harmful uses, such as bioweapons, that synthetic biology can lend itself to, and most hold that issues of biosafety are of utmost importance. In this article, I will evaluate these points of view and conclude that although the biggest promises of synthetic biology are unlikely to become reality, and the probability of accidents is fairly substantial, synthetic biology could still be seen to benefit humanity by enhancing our ethical understanding and by offering a boost to world economy.

Keywords: biosafety; biosecurity; consequentialism; ethics; hope; invisible hand; synthetic biology.

MeSH terms

  • Bioethical Issues
  • Biological Warfare Agents
  • Ethical Theory
  • Hope*
  • Humans
  • Morals
  • Safety*
  • Synthetic Biology / economics
  • Synthetic Biology / ethics*
  • Synthetic Biology / trends


  • Biological Warfare Agents