Last May a seemingly commonplace meeting kicked off a firestorm of controversy. More than 100 experts in genetics and bioengineering convened at Harvard Medical School for a meeting that was closed to the public — attendees were asked not to contact news media or to post about the meeting on social media. The same group is getting back together in New York City next week. To the meeting organizers, last year’s secretive measures were, counterintuitively, to make sure as

many people heard about the project as possible. They were submitting a paper about the project to a scientific journal and were discouraged from sharing the information publicly before it was published. But there’s another reason why this group of scientists, while encouraging debate and public involvement, would be wary of attracting too much attention. Their project is an effort to synthesize DNA, including human DNA. Researchers will start with simpler organisms, such as microbes and plants, but hope to ultimately create strands of human genetic code. READ MORE