Is a synthetically created, self-replicating e-coli cell the newest frontier in bio-genetics? Probably.
Is this crossed threshold a danger to the global population?
Depends on whose answering the question. One scientific observer says the dangers are manageable. One obvious danger is that of bio-terror. And President Obama is sufficiently concerned to have appointed a commission to investigate the implications of this development.
Another British critic argues against the issuing of Patents on genetic material of any kind, and criticises the research lab for applying for and accepting Patents for genetic material.
Is God no longer necessary for the understanding of the "generation of new life"? The Roman Catholic church argues that all life comes from God while welcoming the new accomplishment guardedly. What, exactly, does the church mean when it says, "All life comes from God?" Is that another euphemism like "God created Adam and Eve" which then came to be considered by some who called themsevles theologians as "this disproves Darwin's evolutionary theory". As one Zoology professor put it many decades ago, "There is no fundamental disagreement between the Creation Story in Genesis and the theory of evolution. I concur.
A synthetic, self-replicating sell, produced from four bottles of chemicals and a software program, using an existing e-coli cell (lab variety, and therefore unable to live outside the lab itself) after removing 14 genes from the cell has the potential to unlock our understanding of how to generate new cells to create water, from cells used to produce oxygen and hydrogen, which in the not-too-distant future could be very useful.
With the world's population possibly growing from 6.8 billion to some 9 billion over the next 30-40 years, there is going to be an exponentially growing need for additional food and water.
Additionally, these new "synthetic" and self-replicating cells might be useful in producing new organisms that could conceivably consume such disasters as the Oil slick in the Gulf of Mexica...but certainly not this one! Not that fast! Many years, perhaps decades into the future.
For additional info. check out Craig Ventner, on onpointradio.org for May 25, 2010