Genetic Engineering: Synthetic Organism

Globe and Mail, May 21 2010, page A2 - Second Life:  A Breakthrough leads to first synthetic organism.   This headline may excite us about how great this scientific discovery is - but does it not also alarm us somewhat?  Do we really know enough about nature, the environment, and the potential of these developments to say so categorically that the creation of articficial life is going to benefit society?  Genome-mapping pioneer, J Craig Venter states, "This is the first self-replicating species we've had on the planet whose parent is a computer".    Is this going to help us meet the Millenium Development Goals, eradicate child poverty in Canada, or bring an end to wars?   Some groups, for example, Friends of the Earth and ETC have already responded to this development.   Concerns include: regulations - or lack thereof - and what could happen if these engineered microbes escaped into the environment.   Another concern is what is the problem this invention is seeking to solve?   And how else could these great scientific minds have been used?