Munich, 8. January 2011. About 5000 people have already signed the petition “Call to protect the environment from synthetic organisms”. The Testbiotech initiative began in June 2010 and is supported by eight other institutions. It is calling for strict legal regulations to protect the environment from synthetic organisms, for permanent control of laboratories and a moratorium on public funding for synthetic biology. It is probably the first time that signatures on this issue have been collected nationally and internationally. Synthetic biology is a newly developed technology enabling the creation of new artificial organisms. Possible applications go far beyond current genetic engineering procedures.
“These initial signatures are sending a clear message to politicians and the broader public. We need strict legal regulations to prevent artificial life being released into the environment from where it can never be recalled. Relevant legislation is missing at national as well as international levels,” says Christoph Then for Testbiotech. “Furthermore, we should stop hundreds of millions of Euros from public funds being spent to support future applications of synthetic biology. First of all we need a broader public discussion on the implications of creating artificial life.” Testbiotech has already approached the German Federal Government and Parliament with some initial proposals for new specific legal regulations.
The petition “Call to protect the environment from synthetic organisms” will be continued until the end of June 2011. The initiative is supported by Friends of the Earth, Germany (BUND), the German partner of Birdlife International (NABU), the Gene-ethical Network (Berlin), the Society for Ecological Research (Munich) and others such as the Basel Appeal against Genetic Engineering (Switzerland).