Manuel Porcar
Researcher at the University of Valencia (Spain) in the Biotechnology and Synthetic Biology lab of the Institute of Integrative Systems Biology I2SysBio (University of Valencia - CSIC) and president of Darwin Bioprospecting Excellence SL (Science Park of the University of Valencia). Among his fields of research are bioprospecting in environments hostile to the search of microorganisms of industrial interest, as well as various aspects of the development of synthetic biology as an emerging discipline. He is currently the coordinator of the European H2020 project BioRobooST, which brings together 27 public and private institutions from Europe and six partners from Asia and America with the aim of promoting an international standardisation process in synthetic biology.
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The concept of standardization is linked to the industrial revolution and mass production of goods through assembly lines. The question we will try to answer is the extent to which standards can be achieved in the biological realm.
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In the field of biotechnology and synthetic biology – which aims at studying living things from the point of view of engineering – standards are desirable, but it has yet to be proved that they can be widely adopted.
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It is clear that the term synthetic biology raises expectations, but it is no less true that it also causes concern. This article starts with a critique of the identification of cells as machines and discusses the current scope of synthetic biology and efforts to standardise it. We also outline some of the social implications of attempts to manufacture life.