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BioAgenda San Diego Regional Roundtable
July 19, 2004
5:30 - 8:30pm

Topic: Is redesigning life a good idea? Bioengineering in the age of genetics.

BioAgenda will hold its second Regional Issues Roundtable Dinner of the year in the San Diego area, underwritten by Pillsbury Winthrop LLP and IBM Healthcare and Life Sciences.  To request an invitation, Email

Panelists (access complete bios by clicking on names):

  • Charles Cantor, PhD, Director, Center for Advanced Biotechnology at Boston College; Co-Founder and CSO, Sequenom
  • Richard Hamilton, PhD, President and CEO of Ceres Corporation 
  • William Hurlbut, MD, Consulting Professor, Stanford University Program in Human Biology; Member of President's Council on Bioethics 
  • Floyd Romesberg, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry, The Scripps Research Institute  


David Ewing Duncan, Award-Winning Writer and the Founder and Editorial Director of BioAgenda

Topic Summary:

Redesigning Life, or the genetic alteration of biological organisms, will profoundly change how we think about our place in nature, and, perhaps, what it means to be human. Germline intervention is already the basis of an entire agricultural industry. Many animals are having their germlines altered for industrial uses or for research. Most scientists think that humans are next. But germline alteration of animals and plants has created a number of ethical, legal, and political questions – as well as hope for curing disease, eliminating hunger and pollution, and extending lifespan. BioAgenda has invited leading scientists working on projects that offer the possibility of redesigning life, as well as informed critics and experts to address the science, social implications, and the law, discussing the central question: Is redesigning life a good idea?  


Among the questions that will be addressed:  


  • How hard would it be to re design humans? The scientists explain just where the science is.  
  • What are the moral, legal, and political problems associated with bioengineering humans?  
  • What are the benefits of human germline intervention? As we create different gene-modifying drugs, wouldn't it be easier to just alter the germline of a victim of Huntington's disease?  
  • Have bio-engineered crops helped feed the planet?  Or have they just increased the stock price of ag-bio companies at the cost of biodiversity and sustainability?  
  • Do we really understand the long-term consequences to the environment and our own organisms from the intensive cultivation of bioengineered plants and animals?  
  • Why do polls in Europe seem to say that research into genetically modified humans is more acceptable to Europeans than GMO foods? Might the opposite trend occur in the US?  Why?

To request an invitation:


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