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REVISITED

After key battle, Syrian town of Kobane looks to the future

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THE INTERVIEW

'War is not an option,' says former FARC guerrilla leader

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EYE ON AFRICA

Madagascar political crisis: top court orders formation of unity government

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MEDIAWATCH

Ireland's abortion referendum

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THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Weinstein in court; Ireland abortion vote; Italy's populist takeover

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YOU ARE HERE

Sugar and spice: The flavours of the French Caribbean

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FRENCH CONNECTIONS

The French are so rude! Or are they?

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ENCORE!

The writing's on the wall: Revolutionary posters from May 68

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REPORTERS

'We heard there might be a civil war': May 68 seen from abroad

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DOWN TO EARTH

We meet the people behind fascinating environmental, health and technological innovations in a bid for sustainable solutions to our changing world. Saturday at 7.20 pm. Or you can catch it online from Friday.

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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