Governing Synthetic Biology: Processes and Outcomes

  • Joyce TaitEmail author


New interdisciplinary developments in life sciences are leading to increasingly rapid emergence of new knowledge and ideas with potential commercial application. The governance of new areas of development in life sciences has in the past led to an increasingly onerous and lengthy regulatory process which ensures that “only major multinationals can play”, eventually stultifying the entire innovation system. Public and stakeholder pressures tend to reinforce demands for more regulation and stricter governance, in the case of synthetic biology related to bio-safety, bio-security, trade and global justice, and the morality of creating novel life forms. However, the policy makers’ responses to these pressures can have counter-intuitive implications for innovation. Comparing synthetic biology with, for example nanotechnology and GM crops, can provide some insights into the nature and impacts of future pressures on synthetic biology governance and could contribute to better decision making in future. Concerted international dialogue will be needed that takes account of the interplay between scientists, medical professionals and engineers, policy makers and regulators, and citizens and advocacy groups of all shades of opinion.


Life Science Venture Capitalist Synthetic Biology Synthetic Biologist Intellectual Property Issue 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This chapter owes a great deal to the background research done by Dr. Jane Calvert, ESRC Innogen Centre, for the IRGC policy brief on Synthetic Biology (IRGC 2008).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ESRC Innogen CentreUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghUK

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