"As I say when you look at the biological world, when engineers look at the biological world, many of us are awe struck by how biology has recruited simple chemicals to do very complicated things, things that humans cannot design. The genome encodes all these functions.
It’s a little four letter alphabet that when strung together encodes so many capabilities that we would love to be able to mimic in the laboratory. We are such a long ways from doing that so we engineer the genome in order to build new biological objects that would solve problems.
But when we go in and try to alter the code so that instead of encoding a bacterium that takes sunlight and carbon dioxide and makes more bacteria, it makes chemicals and fuels that we need, we realize that we don’t know what to compose. We don’t know what is the string of DNA that would do that.