Publications

March 25, 2009

New Life, Old Bottles

Regulating First-Generation Products of Synthetic Biology

The safety of early applications of synthetic biology may be adequately addressed by the existing regulatory framework for biotechnology, especially in contained laboratories and manufacturing facilities. But further advances in this emerging field are likely to create significant challenges for U.S. government oversight, according to a new report. authored by Michael Rodemeyer of the University of Virginia. Synthetic biology promises major advances in areas such as biofuels, specialty chemicals, and agriculture and drug products.

In New Life, Old Bottles: Regulating First-Generation Products of Synthetic Biology, Rodemeyer examines the benefits and drawbacks of using the existing U.S. regulatory framework for biotechnology to cover the new products and processes enabled by synthetic biology.

“Before synthetic biology matures, Congress and policymakers should consider how to rationalize and modernize the regulation of new converging technologies, instead of attempting to shoehorn each new area of technological development into laws previously written for a different set of issues and potential risks.”

Michael Rodemeyer, “New Life, Old Bottles: Regulating First-Generation Products of Synthetic Biology,” Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, March 25, 2009.