If this is legit, it feels straight out of science fiction, and likely will have a large impact on what’s possible. I would like to read a non-lawyered expansion of this line:
Throughout the course of this work, the team contemplated, discussed, and engaged in outside review of the ethical and societal implications of their work.
The .pdf they provide to expand the ethical consideration only summarizes that Synthetic Genomics and JCVI have been in contact with the appropriate governmental agencies. The results of those contacts and reviews are given in linked .pdf’s.
The summary of their press release:
The ability to routinely write the software of life will usher in a new era in science, and with it, new products and applications such as advanced biofuels, clean water technology, and new vaccines and medicines. The field is already having an impact in some of these areas and will continue to do so as long as this powerful new area of science is used wisely. Continued and intensive review and dialogue with all areas of society, from Congress to bioethicists to laypeople, is necessary for this field to prosper.
This may not be news to folks in the genomics field, but I had no idea that something like this was even close to possible.