We Have to Design Synthetic Creatures to Save Our Ecosystems, Scientists Say

Kristan T. Harris | The Rundown Live

sybbiochartScientists are planning the development of new synthesized biological organisms designed to save our planet.

The idea gained steam at a conference titled, How will synthetic biology and conservation shape the future of nature? The conference was the first meeting between the two fields. “It was a bit like a first date with these two groups trying to work out if they had anything in common,” says Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg (Download meeting PDF). Ginsberg has been involved in the synthetic biology world for years, she has co-authored a book, Synthetic Aesthetics, along with scientists for MIT Press.

As a result of the negotiations, patent filings and corporate decision-making, the three initial organisms will include:


*bioremediating slugs that monitor our soil (pictured left)
*porcupine-like creatures that distribute seeds (pictured center)
*biofilm-coated tree leaves that trap pollution and viruses (pictured right)

This solution may seem simple but it has its complications, says Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg. “Imagining that technology can solve our problems is a kind of techno-utopian view,” she says. “I think it’s much more complex than that.”

“I often hear from the technology community that I ask too many questions and don’t solve enough problems,” Ginsberg says. “I think we need to be asking better questions, and we need to accept that there isn’t always a solution—we just have to strive to solve these big problems.”

If scientists are effectively acting as designers in this new world of biology, it’s increasingly important they start to think like designers, published Wired.

How will synthetic biology and conservation shape the future of nature? (Download meeting PDF)