the WHITE HOUSEPresident Barack Obama

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Synthesized DNA and the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues

Summary: 
John P. Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, discusses a letter from the President to the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues regarding scientific news on laboratory-synthesized DNA.

Today, scientists reported they had, for the first time, replaced all of the natural DNA inside a cell with laboratory-synthesized DNA that was copied from a natural blueprint -- the DNA of a naturally occurring bacterium closely related to the one into which the synthetic DNA was inserted.

In response to this development, which holds promise in a number of scientific fields but also raises potential societal or ethical concerns, the President called upon his recently-created Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues to consider the implications of the advance and report back to him within six months.

John P. Holdren is Assistant to the President for Science and Technology