Synthetic biology might change the world: research and development in this field are likely to have the potential to produce energy and novel medication or to develop new bio-synthetic resources. How this will affect health, society, and the environment is hard to tell. In Germany, only few people seem to show acceptance for the artificial production of living organisms, yet.
The EU-funded dialogue project SYNERGENE wants to tackle prejudice against synthetic biology by encouraging public discourse and rendering research more responsible. Until 2017, the EU-funding scheme MMLAP (Mobilisation Mutual Learning Action Plan) is supporting more than 100 activities for public engagement, like expert dialogues, scientific analysis and artistic reflections.
In 2015 in Karlsruhe, too, there will be discussions about pros and cons of the novel bio-technology. ZAK | Centre for Cultural and General Studies is hosting three events on synthetic biology in the course of the summer, two in the course of EFFEKTE-science festival and another one during the town’s 300th anniversary festival. The kick-off will be the science on stage event “Supernova”. Bio-hacker Rüdiger Trojok and technology assessment researcher Christopher Coenen (both KIT-ITAS) will be on stage with actors of the Badisches Staatstheater on June, 28 at 20:30 in the EFFEKTE-dome on castle square. In the framework of the first Karlsruhe Science Film Days, the Austrian Science Art Film Festival will be staying in Karlsruhe. BIO•FICTION@Karlsruhe shows selected films on SynBio followed by a panel discussion in the Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde Karlsruhe at 19:30. Finally, a huge public discussion on advantages and disadvantages of inventions in general and synthetic biology in particular will take place on September, 16 at 19:30. KIT-researcher Christopher Coenen, the Freiburg philosopher Joachim Boldt and Michael Liss (ThermoFisher) will participate in an open fish-bowl discussion hosted by KIT-ITAS researcher Julia Hahn. One of a total of 14 “Stadtgespräche” (Talks of the Town) is set in the framework of the 300th anniversary of the city of Karlsruhe in the festival pavilion in the castle gardens. Using the Karlsruhe-born inventor Karl Drais as a hook, the "Stadtgespräch" on synbio takes up an old example of how inventions are met with scepicism. Drais invented, among other things, the first two-wheeler ever, the „Draisine“ to which contemporaries reacted with outright refusal… For further information, please see http://www.effekte-karlsruhe.de and http://www.synenergene.eu
Read a report (PDF) about the discussion