Craig Venter and his colleagues have done it! They have manufactured DNA from scratch and made a self-replicating life form.
Dr. Hutchison of the JCVI said, “To me the most remarkable thing about our synthetic cell is that its genome was designed in the computer and brought to life through chemical synthesis, without using any pieces of natural DNA. This involved developing many new and useful methods along the way. We have assembled an amazing group of scientists that have made this possible.”
At this stage the goals of the institute are to design and manufacture bacteria for bio-fuels, vaccines, medicines, food products and clean water. This is a very significant milestone with regard to humanity’s ability to shape the environment around us. Obviously, there are implications far beyond these goals. If scientists can design a single-celled organism in a computer and manipulate the raw materials (Adenine, Thymine, Guanine, and Cytosine) to build the DNA, it is only a matter of time until scientists can create multi-cellular organisms from scratch. Nature has been doing this for billions of years.
I for one think this is a very significant breakthrough and a good thing. I recognize of course, that there are some serious ethical, philosophical and religious implications.