21 May 2010, JellyBean @ 5:42 am

Scientists have created artificial life in a laboratory, leading to accusations they are ‘playing God’ and tampering ‘with the essence of life’.

In a world first, Craig Venter, a maverick biologist and billionaire entrepreneur, has made a synthetic cell from scratch.

The creation of a new life form, which has been nicknamed ‘Synthia’, paves the way for customised bugs that could revolutionise healthcare and fuel production.

In future, bacterial ‘factories’ could be set up to manufacture artificial organisms designed for specific tasks such as medicines or producing clean biofuels.

The technology could also be harnessed to create environmentally friendly bugs capable of mopping up carbon dioxide or toxic waste.

Dr Venter, a 63-year-old Vietnam War veteran known for his showman tendencies, said last night: ‘We are entering a new era where we’re limited mostly by our imaginations.’

But the breakthrough, which took 15 years and £27.7million to achieve, opens an ethical Pandora’s box. Ethicists said he is ‘creaking open the most profound door in humanity’s history’ – with unparalleled risks.

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Daily Mail

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