Some scientists want to create a synthetic human genome, and their proposal has critics worked up into a frenzy. In a perfect world, this proposed synthetic human genome would be used to grow human organs for transplant, aid humans in developing medications and vaccines for various illnesses, and more. In a less-than-ideal world, critics worry it could also lead to the creation of a human without parents, to “designer humans” with specific attributes.
The proposal was made public today after private talks that had previously sparked controversy. A collective of 25 scientists are part of the proposal, and they’re not interested in things like designer humans. Rather, the collective is open to having the public involved and will take into advisement concerns about possible social, ethical, and legal issues.
Should the project get a go-ahead, the Human Genome Project-Write, as it’s called, would possibly result in a synthetic genome for testing within the next decade. The collective anticipates needing $100 million in funding which could come from both private and public sources. Some scientists who aren’t part of the project have expressed their agreement toward it, saying it could have benefits for future research.
Noted by Reuters, Synthetic Biology Professor John Ward of University College London said, “The project is not as controversial as some observers might be saying. There is no call to make an entire human being.” This isn’t the first scientific endeavor to spur controversy — research work on genetically modifying human embryos has raised it own issues.