Duration: 36 months


Coordinator: Prof. Patricia Osseweijer, Delft University of Technology (the Netherlands)

Contact Person:

Dr. Patricia Osseweijer
Department of Biotechnology
Delft University of Technology
Julianalaan 67
2628 BC Delft, The Netherlands
e-mail: p.osseweijer[at]
tel: (+31) 152785140 



  • Delft University of Technology (TUD) (the Netherlands)
  • Research Centre Karlsruhe (FZK) – Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (FZK-ITAS) (Germany)
  • TNO – Quality of Life (TNO) (the Netherlands)
  • University of Padua (UNIPD) (Italy)
  • Australian National University (ANU) – Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics (ANU-CAPPE) (Australia)


Project Description:

Synth-Ethics is an EU funded project under the 7th Framework Programme. It addresses the ethical, legal and social implications of the emerging field of synthetic biology, with a special focus on biosafety and biosecurity and on notions of life. The project starts with discerning relevant ethical issues in close collaboration with the synthetic biology community. Next, the public debates around these issues are analysed. The current ethical and regulative frameworks existing in synthetic biology and closely related fields like nanobiotechnology and genetic engineering will then be reconstructed and assessed for their ability to deal adequately with existing and newly emerging ethical issues in synthetic biology.

In turn, it will contribute significantly to a more adequate and proactive broadly applicable approach to the ethical aspects of new technology. It will contribute to a common understanding of synthetic biology and the ethical, legal and social issues involved in EU member states, and to the shaping of a distinct European approach without ignoring the discussions and developments in the US and elsewhere. Stakeholders’ views will be solicited during the project and will be taken into account, and the project will help to prepare for a rational and informed public dialogue on synthetic biology.

Finally, the project provides a sound basis for EU policy-making in the coming years, also by cooperation and using synergies with other EU-funded and international projects.