Institute for Technology Assessment and  Systems Analysis (ITAS)

Synthetic Biology – Conference and Festival in Amsterdam

In contrast to classic genetic engineering, synthetic biology opens up advanced possibilities to design or re-design organisms. The related societal aspects are subject of the SYNENERGENE Forum on 24 and 25 June 2016.

With the help of synthetic biology, researchers and companies strive for more effective methods to re-design natural organisms and generate completely new biological systems. Applications range from the use of microorganisms for a more sustainable production of fuels and new forms of therapy using specifically designed bacteria to the creation of new artificial forms of life.

Much is still a matter of basic research, but the potentially groundbreaking innovations already raise questions about the future development of this research field:

  • What are the opportunities of synthetic biology to solve societal challenges and how realistic are the corresponding expectations?
  • Which negative implications for the environment and society could result from its application?
  • How can we contribute in a responsible way to its future development?

These questions will be discussed at the SYNENERGENE Forum "Synthetic Biology - Visions of the Future", which will be held in Amsterdam on 24 and 25 June 2016. The first day is organized like a conference with plenary and parallel sessions, addressing primarily experts and stakeholders. The second day will have the character of a festival, opening up the subject for the general public. The forum is organized by SYNENERGENE, an EU-funded "Mobilization and Mutual Learning Action Plan" coordinated by ITAS with the aim of contributing to responsible research and innovation in the field of synthetic biology. The experiences and results of the project which started in 2013 will be presented at the forum.

These include:

  • Visions of synthetic biology from science, industry, and art,
  • discussion of biosafety and biosecurity, risk assessment, and research funding,
  • proposals for future development of research and application,
  • discussion of the contribution of synthetic biology to cope with societal challenges, including representatives of civil society organizations, scientists, and biohackers,
  • a science café on novel vaccines, theatrical debates, and a short film program with artistic visions on synthetic biology.

Participation is free of charge. (11.05.2016)

Further information:

  • Program and registration for the SYNENERGENE Forum
  • Project description of SYNENERGENE at the ITAS website