Mankind has been nudging genes to do our bidding since we first domesticated animals tens of thousands of years ago. Over the eons, we've been selecting for desirable traits in plants and animals, altering the course of evolution. In the latter part of the 20th century, genetic manipulation took a more direct route with the decoding of our own DNA, as well as that of many other species, and we're now at the point where we're rewriting the code of bacteria, and even writing code from scratch for simple life forms. Now, mankind is set to take things way further and craft "life" from scratch. BIOFAB, the International Open Facility Advancing Biotechnology, was founded in December 2009 with tens of millions of dollars in federal science grants and a partnership between Stanford and UC Berkeley. This year, the Emeryville lab creates its first sets of standard biological parts, a step toward wholly synthetic life. If Biofab succeeds, biotechnologies like alternative fuel and cancer treatments are expected to explode. The world is watching.
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