The Dutch Rathenau Institute is an independent organization that promotes the formation of political and public opinion on science and technology. To this end, the Institute studies the organization and development of science systems, publishes about social impact of new technologies, and organizes debates on issues and dilemmas in science and technology. New and emerging science and technologies, including synthetic biology, is one of the focal themes in the work program of the Institute. The Rathenau Institute is part of the EPTA network, an alliance of fourteen European parliamentary TA institutes, which was founded in 1990. In 2006 the Rathenau Institute published “Constructing Life. Early social reflections on the emerging field of synthetic biology”, one of the first international studies about synthetic biology and its societal implications. Since then, the Institute has been an active participant in international and national debates on the societal aspects of synthetic biology.
The main tasks of the Rathenau Institute consist of Lead of Plattform “SynBio Futures” and the attached Work Package; coordination of SYN-ENERGENE’s cooperation with the international genetically engineered machine competition (iGEM); and the organization of the SYN-ENERGENE Forum. Furthermore the institute is Rapporteur for Action Field “Futures Perspectives”.