Lab remakes species by total DNA exchange

From the “Say-What?” archives come this little diddy I was reading in the Baltimore Sun news.

Scientists at a Rockville biotechnology institute say they have completely replaced the DNA of one bacterium with that of another, effectively changing its species.

The experiment could open the door to production of artificial organisms whose original genetic material is replaced entirely by man-made DNA, the researchers said. That way, they believe, they can program bacteria to produce useful metabolic products, such as new biofuels.

Critics said the experiment raises concerns about the unknown risks of artificial organisms and the emerging science is too loosely regulated.

Raises concerns? I would certainly hope so! Who knows what kind of weird organisms could (and would) be created by man? If the technology would get into the wrong hands, we could face a new kind of extreme terror in our lives. Imagine a new kind of weapon that contained a “super-flu” or something like it. Not only would it kill those close to it, the bug could be programmed to be highly contagious, and could be spread from humans to animals, and vice versa.

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