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India to frame policy on synthetic biology (Relevant for GS Prelims and Mains Paper II, III)

What is Synthetic Biology?
An emerging science through which new life forms can potentially be made in labs and existing life forms, such as bacteria and other microbes, altered to produce specific proteins or chemically useful products.

Policy under consideration
India is taking its first steps to evolve a policy on synthetic biology. The Environment Ministry will be convening a group of experts to assess synthetic biology work pursued in Indian labs, potential benefits and risks, and the implications of the trans-boundary movement of such life forms.

Possible benefits of Synthetic Biology
Synthetic biology in microbial systems holds promise for production of drugs, vaccines, fuel components and other chemicals. A popular example is the production of artemisinin, a powerful anti-malarial drug, in yeast, at a commercial level. Microorganisms have also been constructed to act as sensors that can detect a toxin in vitro (outside a living organism) or in vivo (inside a living organism).

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