From bioerror to bioterror – should we worry about synthetic biology? (Part 1)
15 September 2019
Today’s scientists aren’t just manipulating existing lifeforms and their DNA, new biotech tools now make it easier to engineer new, artificial biological entities from scratch – ones that don’t exist in nature.
Synthetic biology has big, exciting applications, but also comes with big risks.
For example, what if an engineered virus escapes a lab unintentionally, or a person with malicious intentions uses it to commit bioterrorism?
From bioerror to bioterror, Science Friction’s Natasha Mitchell was the only journalist at a recent closed NATO biosecurity workshop in Switzerland where leaders in the military, science and citizen science, sociology, and technological governance met to consider the threats.
Dr Peter Emanuel, Army Senior Scientist for Bioengineering, US Department of Defence
Daniel Feakes, Head of Implementation Support Unit, UN Biological Weapons Convention, UN Office for Disarmament Affairs.
Dr Todd Kuiken, Genetic Engineering and Society Center, North Carolina State University
Dr Filippa Lentzos, Senior Research Fellow, joint appointment in the Department of Global Health & Social Medicine and the Department of War Studies, Kings College London
Rebecca Moritz, Responsible Official and Institutional Contact. Dual Use Research, University of Wisconsin Madison
Dr Piers Millet, Director of Safety and Security at iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machines Competition)
Dr Edward (Ed) J. Perkins, Senior Research Scientist, U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center
The workshop, Security and Resilience for Emerging Synthetic Biology and Biotechnology Threats, was run by the International Risk Governance Center (IRGC@EPFL) at EPFL and the NATO Peace Science for Peace and Security Programme
From bioerror to bioterror – should we worry about synthetic biology? (Part 2)
Move over Industrial Age and Atomic Age, we have well and truly arrived at the Age of Biology.
The emerging field of synthetic biology has countless exciting applications for medicine, materials, our food and environment.
But could it also be co-opted by terrorists with scientific know-how?
There are concerns that bioterrorism could become more targeted with the help of new tools in biotechnology.
From your cells to crops, pandemics to plagues – are the risks real or far-flung?
Science Friction’s Natasha Mitchell was the only journalist at a recent closed NATO biosecurity workshop in Switzerland considering the threats.
Hear what insiders – leaders in military science, citizen science, and security – have to say.
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