Schmidt, M.; Ganguli-Mitra, A.; Torgersen, H.; Kelle, A.; Deplazes, A. et al. [..] (2009) A priority paper for the societal and ethical aspects of synthetic biology. Systems and Synthetic Biology (vol. 3, nrs. 1-4), S. 3-7.
As synthetic biology develops into a promising science and engineering field, we need to have clear ideas and priorities regarding its safety, security, ethical and public dialogue implications. Based on an extensive literature search, interviews with scientists, social scientists, a 4 week long public e-forum, and consultation with several stakeholders from science, industry and civil society organisations, we compiled a list of priority topics regarding societal issues of synthetic biology for the years ahead. The points presented here are intended to encourage all stakeholders to engage in the prioritisation of these issues and to participate in a continuous dialogue, with the ultimate goal of providing a basis for a multi-stakeholder governance in synthetic biology. Here we show possible ways to solve the challenges to synthetic biology in the field of safety, security, ethics and the science-public interface.
Torgersen, H. (2009) Synthetic Biology in Society – Learning from past Experience?. Systems and Synthetic Biology, Bd. 3 (1-4), S. 9-17.
Drawing an analogy to past debates over biotechnology, some stakeholders fear that synthetic biology (SB) could raise public concerns. Accordingly, 'lessons from the past' should be applied to avoid controversies. However, biotechnology in the 1990s is not the only possible comparator. The potential to become contested has been attributed to a number of other novel technologies. Looking at nanotechnology for example, controversies have not materialised to the extent predicted. The article discusses factors relevant for controversies over technologies as well as differences to the situation when modern biotechnology began to proliferate. Certain properties attributed to SB in the discussion so far indeed suggest a potential for controversies, but perceptions may follow those on other aspects of biotechnology subject to local contingencies. Finally, it is questioned whether ELSI research should see its task in applying lessons from the past to ease technology introduction. Rather than being embedded in a linear model of technology development, social scientists take an interest in developments 'upstream' where technologies take shape.
Schmidt, Markus; Torgersen, Helge; Ganguli-Mitra, Agomoni; Kelle, Alexander; Deplazes, Anna et al. [..] (2008) SYNBIOSAFE e-conference: online community discussion on the societal aspects of synthetic biology. Systems and Synthetic Biology.
As part of the SYNBIOSAFE project, we carried out an open electronic conference (e-conference), with the aim to stimulate an open debate on the societal issues of synthetic biology in a proactive way. The e-conference attracted 124 registered participants from 23 different countries and different professional backgrounds, who wrote 182 contributions in six different categories: (I) Ethics; (II) Safety; (III) Security; (IV) IPR; (V) Governance and regulation; (VI) and Public perception. In this paper we discuss the main arguments brought up during the e-conference and provide our conclusions about how the community thinks, and thinks differently on the societal impact of synthetic biology. Finally we conclude that there is a chance for an open discourse on the societal issues of synthetic biology happening, and that the rules to govern such a discourse might be set up much easier and be respected more readily than many would suggest.
Ganguli-Mitra, A.; Schmidt, M.; Torgersen, H.; Deplazes, A.; Biller-Andorno, N. (2009) Of Newtons and heretics. nature biotechnology (Vol. 27/Nr. 4 (2009)), S. 321-322.
Torgersen, H.; Schmidt, M. (11.11.2010) Synbiosafe – safety and ethical aspects of synthetic biology. Vortrag bei: STOA conference „Making Perfect Life – Bio-engineering in the 21st century“, Brüssel/BELGIUM.
Torgersen, H. (19.10.2009) Jenseits der Gentechnik - Systembiologie, Synthetische Biologie und 'embedded TA'. Vortrag bei: Kolloquium im Rahmen des DFG Graduiertenkollegs "Auf dem Weg in die Wissensgesellschaft", Bielefeld/GERMANY.
Torgersen, H. (15.11.2008) Science/Public Interface and Governance. Vortrag bei: SYNBIOSAFE Workshop (IDC), Wien/AUSTRIA.
Torgersen, H. (13.11.2008) Sensitive technologies: can we learn from past conflicts?. Vortrag bei: 6th Vienna BioCentre PhD Symposium: Life under (re)construction (Institut für Molekularpathologie), Wien/AUSTRIA.
Torgersen, H. (30.05.2008) Assessing the next game in town - wenn TA die Technikentwicklung überholt. Vortrag bei: TA08/NTA3, Wien/AUSTRIA.
Torgersen, H. (15.12.2008) Synthetische Biologie: Stellungnahme zu gesellschaftsrelevanten Themen. ITA-Newsletter (Dezember 2008), S. 3 f.