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More than one report from an august body of experts has gathered dust in Washington DC.  But the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a public-policy think tank based in the US capital, is setting out today to make sure that does not happen when the subject is synthetic biology.

The centre today launched a ‘scorecard‘  that will monitor the progress made on 18 recommendations proposed in December 2010 by the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues.

That report, New Directions: The Ethics of Synthetic Biology and Emerging Technologies, was requested by President Barack Obama in May 2010, after J. Craig Venter and his colleagues published the first synthetic bacterial genome.

The Wilson centre’s new scorecard makes it clear that progress implementing the commission’s proposals — several of which are on an 18-month timeline — has been middling, if that. For instance, the scorecard reports “no activities identified” in the executive office of the President on the first recommendation: that the US government compile a comprehensive inventory of its current funding for synthetic-biology...