New approaches to biological risk assessment

29 July 2009

This report presents the findings of an international workshop held at the Royal Society in February 2009.  Held jointly with the International Council of the Life Sciences, it brought together a group of international experts on infectious disease, international security and risk assessment to explore new approaches to assessing the full range of biological risks.

The report reviews the spectrum of biological risks, from naturally occurring diseases through to the deliberate misuse of biological agents as weapons, and encompassing unintended risks such as laboratory accidents, and those associated with dual use research.   It outlines some implications of advances in science and technology, and highlights key issues for the development of a common international approach to assessing and managing biological risks.

Update, January 2010:  Assessing the spectrum of biological risks

In the January/February 2010 issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Professor Geoffrey Smith FRS, Chair of the Royal Society’s advisory committee on the Scientific Aspects of International Security (SAIS), and Dr Neil Davison, Senior Policy Adviser, set out some of the main themes from from the Royal Society’s report on biological risk assessment.  The article is available online: Assessing the spectrum of biological risks [subscription required].