The creation - The new synthetic cell . And a very real danger - the production of a bioweapon. The possibilities for a synthetic call creating a new illness or poison are limited only by the imagination. A potential horrendous weapon of mass destruction on a par with nuclear weapons.
... as Dr Venter himself acknowledges, the technology “could also be used for negative purposes” such as creating germs for bioterrorism. “So-called dual-use technologies need to be carefully discussed and reviewed both in the US and globally,” he says.
Some pressure groups, such as Human Genetics Alert in London, say the risks are great enough to call for a moratorium on synthetic biology research “until there is an effective global system of regulation to deal with it”. David King, HGA director, says: “What is really dangerous is these scientists’ ambitions for total and unrestrained control over nature, which many people describe as ‘playing God’.”
The Catholic Church, with reservations, is OK with the research.
"If it is used toward the good, to treat pathologies, we can only be positive" in our assessment, Monsignor Rino Fisichella, the Vatican's top bioethics official, told state-run TV. "If it turns out not to be ... useful to respect the dignity of the person, then our judgment would change."
A top Italian cardinal, Angelo Bagnasco, said the invention is "further sign of intelligence, God's gift to understand creation and be able to better govern it," according to Apcom and ANSA news agencies.
"On the other hand, intelligence can never be without responsibility," said Bagnasco, the head of the Italian bishops' conference. "Any form of intelligence and any scientific acquisition ... must always be measured against the ethical dimension, which has at its heart the true dignity of every person."
Another official with the Italian bishops' conference, Bishop Domenico Mogavero, expressed concern that scientists might be tempted to play God.
"Pretending to be God and parroting his power of creation is an enormous risk that can plunge men into a barbarity," Mogavero told newspaper La Stampa in an interview. Scientists "should never forget that there is only one creator: God."