Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

ENCORE!

Encore’s Year in Music

Read more

FOCUS

Hebron, a city where peace seems impossible

Read more

WEB NEWS

Web users criticize Sony for pulling "The Interview"

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Qatar Airways CEO: Traditional airlines 'inefficient'

Read more

BEYOND BUSINESS

Gastrodiplomacy: is French food losing its flair?

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Viva La Evolucion! US and Cuba Move to Normalise Ties

Read more

LIFESTYLES

Creative Christmas confections

Read more

WEB NEWS

Web users react to Cuba and the US normalizing relations

Read more

WEB NEWS

Connected toys are a must-have for Christmas

Read more

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

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2014-11-16 Mexico

Drought emergency

After one of the driest periods in history, 2014 is on track to be the hottest since record began. How do we adapt to these extreme climate conditions which may be here to stay ?

Read more

2014-10-19 carbon emissions

Climate therapy

Greenhouse gas emissions are rising at the fastest rate in three decades. Meteorologists warn the world is running out of time. In this episode, the Down to Earth team explores...

Read more

2014-09-21 environment

Global warming: A drowning planet

Rising sea levels are an inevitable consequence of global warming. Scientific research indicates that sea levels worldwide have been rising at a rate of 0.14 inches (3.5...

Read more

2014-06-22 water

Microplastics: The planet's tiny threat

Tiny plastic particles, barely visible, are infecting the world's sea and oceans, where they're being eaten by fish and other aquatic species before making their way up the food...

Read more

2014-06-09 technology

Biomimicry: Hacking nature

Biomimicry is the science of mimicking life. Have millions of years of evolution churned out all the answers?

Read more