How will Synthetic Biology and Conservation Shape the Future of Nature?

Dates: April 9 – 11, 2013
Location: Cambridge, England

Synthetic biology promises to change the world in significant ways, yet it is largely unrecognized within the field of conservation. This conference will bring together the synthetic biology and the conservation practitioner communities to discuss the implications that synthetic biology may have on the natural world and conservation and develop new thinking and new strategies to cope with the potential challenges and opportunities.

Scheduled speakers include: Dick Kitney, Georgina Mace, Kent Redford, Karen Esler, Rob Carlson, Sofia Alendra Valenzuela Aguila, Jay Keasling, Mildred Cho, Oliver Morton, Bertina Ceccarelli, Stewart Brand, and many others.

Session 1. What is synthetic biology and what does it have to do with conservation?
Objective: To introduce the subject of synthetic biology and provide several examples of products that are being proposed that have the potential to substantially change the contexts in which conservation works

Session 2. What is biodiversity and how might it be affected by synthetic biology?
Objective: To introduce the science of biodiversity – genes, species, and ecosystems – and ways that its conservation may be affected by synthetic biology

Session 3. The practice of conservation and how it might be affected by synthetic biology
Objective: To explain the methods and concerns of conservation to date, and assess how synthetic biology may affect key conservation strategies

Session 4. Implications of synthetic biology for wider social and economic change relevant to future conservation
Objective: To explore the implications of the secondary impacts of synthetic biology on conservation via its effects on society and global economy

Session 5. What aspects of synthetic biology should conservationists worry about and/or be excited about? And what areas of conservation should synthetic biology worry about and/or be excited about?
Objective: To air the areas of agreement and difference over the implications of synthetic biology for conservation and biodiversity loss, why conservationists and synthetic biologists should talk, and how they should do it

Session 6. The public landscape of synthetic biology and conservation – how can we move forward?
Objective: To place what we have been discussing in the context of the publics’ understanding of the relationship between synthetic biology and conservation and how to best carry forward the discussion

Session 7. The long view
Objective: To provide a vision of the future of synthetic biology and conservation from a long-term professional. He will summarize his thoughts on synthetic biology and talk about the project on which he is working to reintroduce Passenger Pigeons to the United States

Session 8. Reflections and actions
Objective: To provide a closing set of remarks reflecting on the meeting