Kent Redford

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Archipelago Consulting
Redford, Kent

Kent is Principal at Archipelago Consulting in Portland, Maine, USA. He has spent 30 years in the conservation world with a decade at the University of Florida, 5 years at The Nature Conservancy and 14 years at the Wildlife Conservation Society. He organized an April, 2013 meeting that brought together the synthetic biology and conservation communities to discuss linked futures.

Thu July 11 | 2:00 - 4:00 | Parallel Session
ABSTRACT: Synbio meets Conbio. Synthetic biology and responsibility to the natural world

The field of synthetic biology has just recently encountered the edges of the field of conservation biology (Conbio) and practitioners in both fields have yet to realize that there is much they should talk about. Conservation biologists are devoted to maintaining the variety and variability of life, often for its own sake. Synthetic biologists are interested in reducing variability to enhance performance for the sake of human ends. Conservationists are concerned about the increasing biotic homogenization of the world while synthetic biologists are interested in making hybrid organisms. So what responsibility does synthetic biology have towards the natural world from which it draws parts and inspiration, which will be affected by its creations, and in which its practitioners live? Are there wicked problems facing conservation that might be solved with the help of synbio? And what responsibility does conservation have towards organisms that are created by synthetic biologists? The time is ripe for an honest, broad conversation about human kind’s collective responsibility towards the natural world and the role that synthetic biology will play in its future.