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iGEM Europe

Meeting of Young Minds

Topics for the Meeting of Young Minds 2012 announced

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Science and Society SynBio Debate.
Sponsored by the Rathenau Instituut, The Hague

On the night preceding the first European-African iGEM jamboree in 2011 the Rathenau Instituut and the regional iGEM committee organized a Meeting of Young Minds. Future politicians and future synthetic biologists discussed the promise and perils of synthetic biology. Also this year the organizations have joined hands to organize the Meeting of Young Minds 2012, which will take place in the evening of 5 October.

For this year’s edition iGEM teams were invited to submit topics for debate. Based on their proposals the UCL iGEM team and the iGEM team of the TU Delft were invited to work out their plan for debate. The Rathenau Instituut and European-African iGEM committee are now happy to announce the topics:

The first topic is the discussion about the deliberate release of synthetic organisms. If synthetic biology wants to live up to its potential, we have to consider synthetic organisms being released outside the laboratory doors, using for example, synthetic organisms to clean up plastics in the ocean. However, releasing such organisms will stumble upon strong reservations, and even fear. So under what conditions should deliberate release be allowed? How do we prevent things from going wrong? And what do we do if things do go wrong?

The debate continues about the controversial H5N1 Avian bird flu research. This research has led to fierce international debate and many issues yet remain to be solved. Meanwhile synthetic biology is making it easier to make or remake bad bugs, such as the H5N1 virus. Hence, the H5N1 research will certainly not be the last time biosecurity and biosafety issues will lead to fierce discussion. How should we deal with these issues?

The Rathenau Instituut and the European iGEM committee are convinced that these topics are excellent starting points for an exciting Meeting of Young Minds 2012, and welcome all iGEM participants to attend the event.

For more information you can also look at website of the Rathenau Instituut.