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Syst Synth Biol. 2009 Dec;3(1-4):27-35. doi: 10.1007/s11693-009-9038-3. Epub 2009 Oct 10.

Pictures of Synthetic Biology : A reflective discussion of the representation of Synthetic Biology (SB) in the German-language media and by SB experts.

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Institute of Technology Assessment (ITA), Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna, Austria,


This article is concerned with the representation of Synthetic Biology in the media and by biotechnology experts. An analysis was made of German-language media articles published between 2004 and 2008, and interviews with biotechnology-experts at the Synthetic Biology conference SB 3.0 in Zurich 2007. The results have been reflected in terms of the definition of Synthetic Biology, applications of Synthetic Biology and the perspectives of opportunities and risks. In the media, Synthetic Biology is represented as a new scientific field of biology with an engineering-like thinking, while the scientists interviewed mostly define Synthetic Biology as contrary to nature and the natural system. Media articles present Synthetic Biology broadly with positive potential and inform the publics less about the potential risks than about the benefits of Synthetic Biology. In contrast, the experts interviewed reflect more on the risks than the opportunities of Synthetic Biology. Both used metaphors to describe Synthetic Biology and its aspects.

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