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MEDIAWATCH

Queen Elizabeth tweets

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THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The world this week - October 24 2014 (part 2)

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THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The world this week - October 24 2014

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FRANCE IN FOCUS

Art rocks and shocks Paris

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#TECH 24

Samsung's Gear VR Reviewed

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#TECH 24

How to become a Cyborg

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ENCORE!

Paris rediscovers Picasso

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#THE 51%

Should freezing your eggs be a company benefit?

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REVISITED

Norway: Utoya massacre survivors still seeking answers

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We travel across the globe and meet the people behind the most fascinating environmental, health and technological innovations in a bid for sustainable solutions to our changing world. Every other Sunday at 8.40 pm.

DOWN TO EARTH

DOWN TO EARTH

Latest update : 2013-10-02

Synthetic biology: Creating life from scratch

A pioneering science is offering researchers the possibility to design and engineer new forms of life on a made-to-order basis. This week we head to the United Kingdom to explore the boundless potential of synthetic biology.

Synthetic biology can be likened to a game of Lego with a biological twist, where scientists build organisms from scratch to tackle challenges in the domains of energy, health or technology. Some have described the field as "genetic engineering on steroids".

If we consider that genetic modification involves cutting a DNA sequence from an organism and splicing it into another, then synthetic biology goes much further.

This new way of doing science means treating DNA sequences as spare parts which can be arranged in millions of different ways, going well beyond the genes found in nature. This artificial DNA can be used to produce everything from medicine to fuels to textiles. The only limit is our imagination.

But critics are questioning whether mankind is prepared for the consequences of this unparalleled control over nature. 

By Mairead DUNDAS , Marina BERTSCH , Juliette LACHARNAY , Emilie COCHAUD

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