Crying wolf over synthetic biology?

Laurie Garrett has a new biosecurity article at Foreign Affairs on the perils and challenges of synthetic biology. Biosecurity is yet another subdivision of security studies for national governance and international relations where people are going to being investing their lives trying to put a genie we scientists freed back in a bottle. It's a rivotting topic to contemplate, and technology with the potential for unparalleled disruption and reallignment of global systems. However, it seems important to point out that Ms. Garrett may not be the right person to be collecting our attention as herald of this revolution.

About 20 years ago, Garrett wrote a widely acclaimed book called The Coming Plague. While undoubtable an attractive read, 20 years of history have shown that it has been quite off the mark in terms of tone and general predictions about the near future. We remain concerned about the potential emergence of new infectious diseases like flu pandemics caused by ducks and other viruses carried by bats. And some will say we dodged a disaster by controlling SARS before it got out of hand. But given the other challenges we have been facing, it seems the threats from emergence of naturally occurring infectious diseases was overhyped, not a balanced and dispassionate accounting. Similarly, her follow-up book Betrayal of Trust: The collapse of global public health seems premised on the fallacy that a global public health system was something that could ever have been maintained under Malthusian pressures.

Given the questionable track-record, I'd really like to hear some opinions from other writers and reporters.