A draft foresight paper on synthetic biology was recently released in the news by the Ministry of Science and Technology’s Department of Biotechnology. Energy, biofuels and agriculture are all applications of synthetic biology. As a result, the possibility of components or factors leaking into the open environment is always present.
As a result, the text emphasises the importance of a national policy that would solidify India’s stance on the problem. In the article below, we’ll look at some key points and takeaways of synthetic biology.
Synthetic Biology UPSC
Barbara Hobomin coined the phrase “synthetic biology” in 1980 to characterise bacteria that had been genetically modified using recombinant DNA technology. Synthetic biology is the science of creating unnatural organisms or organic chemicals that can function in living systems by genetic editing, sequencing, and modification.
Synthetic biology allows scientists and researchers to create novel DNA sequences from the ground up. The word was coined to denote the creation of non-natural organic compounds that have a role in biological systems or bodies. The word has also been used to refer to initiatives to redesign life’ in a broader and generalised sense.
UPSC Exam Preparation: Important Points
UPSC Notes: Applications
Classify and identify standardised genomic parts that can be used (and synthesised fast) to construct novel biological systems and bodies.
Redesign existing biological parts and increase the set of natural protein activities for novel processes with Applied Protein Design. Modified rice, is the best illustration, that can manufacture beta-carotene which is a vitamin found in carrots to avoid Vitamin A insufficiency.
Some More Applications
Engineer microbes to create all of the biological processes and essential enzymes to accomplish complicated multistep natural product synthesis. Microorganisms, for example, can be used in bioremediation (the use of living microorganisms to degrade environmental toxins into less hazardous forms) to clear pollutants out of the soil, water, and air.
Design and build a simple genome for a wild bacterium using synthetic genomics. For instance, Yeast has been developed to produce rose oil as a sustainable alternative and environmentally friendly to genuine roses used by perfumers to create luxury smells.
UPSC Notes: Negative Impacts
Negative Environmental Health: The deliberate or unintentional introduction of genetically modified organisms into the environment could have serious consequences for human and environmental health. Misuse of these technologies, as well as negligence to account for unexpected consequences, could have irreparable consequences for the environment.
Do-It-Yourself Biology: Over the last decade, a trend of “citizen scientists” eager in synthetic biology research has grown into an international phenomenon. Biotechnology enthusiasts gather in improvised labs to do hands-on experiments and follow crash courses, often with little prior knowledge of the area.
Ethical Concerns: Many of the ethical issues raised by synthetic biology are comparable to those raised by genome editing, such as:
#Are humans transgressing moral limits by using synthetic biology tools to redesign organisms?
#Who will have access to new therapies and cures for diseases if synthetic biology produces them?
Government Policies and Regulatory Aspects
International Bodies & Agreements:
#Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
#Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety
#Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing
#Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol
#Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO)
#Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)
#International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
#Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)
#UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)
#Biological Weapons Convention.
#India is a party to all the International governance bodies discussed above.
Indian Regulatory System:
#Drugs and Cosmetics Rules – 1988,
#Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act, 2001,
#Biological Diversity Act, 2002
#Food Safety and Standards Act 2006
Way Forward: UPSC Preparation Notes
#India has yet to openly announce its national synthetic biology plan (both regulatory and policy).
#In this setting, India’s policy and regulatory structure must address concerns such as:
#Determining what characterises synthetic biology as a science.
#What sort of research and development priorities will the government set?
#Guidance for future research in the private sector, including what all considerations would be made concerning key policy frameworks, such as intellectual property rights.
#How will India regulate the development and use of this technology, taking into account environmental and socioeconomic concerns?
National Strategy Considering International Laws
#The principle of precaution
#State sovereignty and the avoidance of cross-border harm
#Environmental Impact Assessment and State Responsibility
#Access to information, public involvement, and access to justice are all principles that must be followed.
#The right to self-determination and free prior informed consent are fundamental human rights.
#Intergenerational equity and sustainable development.
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