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Commission members discussing synthetic biology.
On November 16 and 17, President Obama’s Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues announced its draft recommendations on the oversight and regulation of synthetic biology. These recommendations were the long awaited response to Craig Venter’s announcement in May 2010 that he and his team had created the world’s first organism with a fully synthetic genome.

The Commission’s study supporting these recommendations, requested by the President after Venter’s announcement, researched the implications of synthetic biology, including potential benefits and risks of the emerging technology. After two public meetings - one in July and one in September - the commission used its third and final public hearing on synthetic biology to announce and discuss its draft recommendations. The recommendations have not yet been posted officially, but we have transcribed them from the webcast of the November meeting, and are making them available here.

The Commission should be applauded for adopting an open and transparent deliberation process when reviewing synthetic biology. All meetings were open to the public and available as live and archived webcasts. The Commission also intentionally reached out...