The goal of Synthetic Biology and its proponents like Craig Venter are novel organisms for specific purposes, constructed like a machine in which desirable characteristics are added and undesirable 'components' are excluded. However, unlike machines they can reproduce and adapt in unpredictable ways in order to survive. At present synthetic biology is more speculation than reality, but especially the development of organisms for bioeconomy and agrofuel production, brings several topics together on which EcoNexus works, such as in the report Agriculture and Climate Change.
... or unregulated cottage industry?
The powerful interests involved in Synthetic Biology and its aspired use in economically important areas, require a close monitoring of its developments. Otherwise, we might find that commercial interests will drive it before decisions can be made about how to regulate them, their potential effects and further reaching consequences.
But even then synthetic biology will be difficult to regulate since rapidly reducing prices for basic technologies make resources easily available. This opens a completely different area of concerns, for example whe it becomes possible to build pathogens in simple labs that have already been dubbed garage synbio.