It is already being described as "one of the most important scientific achievements in the history of mankind" - a new, entirely artificial life form created in a laboratory.
It is not a clone, or a genetically modified organism, but a synthetic living cell.
It is being hailed as a huge scientific step, but some are saying it is a step too far.
The cell was created in the laboratory of American scientist Dr Craig Venter, who told Newsnight that it was a breakthrough that would benefit humanity.
Broadcast on Thursday 20 May 2010.
Read more: Susan Watts considers the impact of Venter's 'synthetic life'