IntroductionCesagen organised a meeting to discuss the regulation of dual use technologies, held at The Wellcome Trust in London.
Microbiology, genomics and beyond: Regulating dual use technology into the 21st century.
In collaboration with Professor Les Baillie, Professor of Microbiology, Welsh School of Pharmacy, Cesagen organized a meeting to discuss the regulation of dual use technologies, held at The Wellcome Trust in London on the 17th September.
The meeting brought together policy makers, scientists and social scientists to consider the challenges of dual use technology in the area of synthetic biology and so-called “garage genomics”. Like many earlier methods in microbiology these technologies have considerable potential value as well as raise potential security risks. Drawing on the US experience of recent attempts to regulate these technologies, the meeting explored European thinking on the topic with a view to developing UK approaches to regulation.
Speakers gave historical perspectives on dual use technologies, explored bioterrorist attacks, the emergence and development of synthetic biology and the risks of misuse of DNA synthesis, insight into the practicality of establishing a functional laboratory in your back garden and considered recommendations for biosecurity.
Delegates attending the meeting included officials from the Home Office, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Health Protection Agency and Proton Down as well as scientists and other academics from a broad range of institutions such as the Australian National University, Bradford and the University of Sussex.
Cesagen Associate Director, Professor Adam Hedgecoe said afterwards: “the meeting raised a number of important issues for future, most pressing perhaps the need to raise awareness of potential dual use issues among professional microbiologists, and broader biosecurity and safety among amateurs involved in the DIY -biology community.”
The event was funded by Cesagen, The Wellcome trust, the Society for General Microbiology and the Society for Applied Microbiology.