16 December 2015
Today, IAP (the global network of science academies) publishes, in partnership with the Royal Society, the US National Academy of Sciences and the Polish Academy of Science, a review of scientific and technological developments that have implications for the UN Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC).
The review, available to download, is being presented at a side event at the Meeting of the States Parties to the BWC in Geneva, Switzerland. It ensures that the most up to date scientific advice in the area of biosciences is available to assist policy makers in preparing for the 8th BWC Review Conference, which takes in place December 2016.
Professor Rod Flower FRS, who chaired the project, said “Whilst the malevolent uses of biological organisms or toxins has been historically low, new scientific advances present both opportunities and possible risks in the foreseeable future. For instance, this year gene editing has raised a number of ethical concerns, including the potential biosecurity risks it poses.
“The scientific community has an important role to play in helping policy makers identify measures to manage these risks without jeopardising the enormous potential benefits from research advances. We look forward to feeding our findings into the Meeting of the State Parties to support discussions ahead of the 2016 BWC Review Conference.”
Key issues highlighted in the review include:
Today’s side event, hosted by the Royal Society and IAP, also includes presentations about synthetic biology and microbial forensics, a relatively new scientific discipline used to help investigate possible bioterrorism attacks, or inadvertent microorganism or toxin release.