This session offered a comprehensive introduction and assessment of the new and increasingly controversial field of synthetic biology. Major attention was directed at the prospects that synthetic biology holds for human biological manipulation.
The discussion included definitions/boundaries of synthetic biology, history and key current developments, politics, and key players. It focused on implications for the concerns held most immediately by those at the Tarrytown Meeting, i.e., implications for modification/manipulation of human beings. It included a focus on “connecting the dots,” both in the immediate and the longer terms, between near-term (and strategically attractive) applications of synthetic biology, and future wholesale reconfiguration of the natural world and of human biology.