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Speed Debate on Synthetic Biology

Will the world be a safe place if we make biology easy to engineer? Should plastic pollution be tackled by GMO (genetically modified organisms)? How do the lessons of the past inform the discussion going forward?

These topics are the subject of a speed debate on Synthetic Biology organised by the iGEM team at UCL in London.

This meeting is not formally organised by London Futurists, but many members of London Futurists will find it of interest.

Note that you need to register via the EventBrite link mentioned below, before attending.

As stated on the UCL iGEM website: iGEM – international Genetically Engineered Machine - is an international competition, to promote research into new uses of synthetic biology.

This summer a team at UCL will attempt to build artificial islands by introducing genetically modified microorganisms into the ocean to take on plastic pollution. We're inviting you to participate in our evening of speed debating. To wrap up the evening, three experts will be on hand for a short Q&A to give you the insider's point of view on synthetic biology, science in society and bioethics.

The bar will be open for refreshments. Join us for an evening of debate and drinks!

Register for free at:

Get to grips with our project at

The expert participants will include:

Howard Boland, who is co-founder and artistic director of C-LAB and an artist working with Synthetic Biology. His research focuses the use of standardised genetic parts using the MIT-based biobricks library through a laboratory-based practice. Currently, his PhD titled “Art from Synthetic Biology” combines synthetic biology and art to produce novel visual expressions in bacteria.

Erin Oerton, who is examining the ethical and legal issues surrounding Synthetic Biology and Geoengineering for the Rathenau Institute's "Meeting of the Young Minds" debate. Her successful proposal for the UCL iGEM entry explores the international release of genetically modified organisms. Studying Computer Science at UCL, she is modelling the interaction between the Plastic Republic bacterium and the marine environment as a member of the 2012 team.

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  • Eugene B.

    great stuff guys

    August 8, 2012

  • Brian From C.

    this form of it is a bit batty:

    Yoikes ;)
    In canada we do this naturally of course, but having taken things to a new level, usually there is rhyming and a big dubstep background track as well ;) haha

    August 4, 2012

  • David W.

    Brian - I assumed that "speed debating" would be some kind of new-fangled Canadian idea, and that you would already be an expert practitioner ;-)

    I haven't found a definitive definition on line...

    But may contain some clues

    August 3, 2012

  • Brian From C.

    So what is speed debating??

    August 3, 2012

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