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Genomics Forum · News

Experts meet to discuss improving intelligence relating to emerging bio-weapon threats



Scientists, sociologists and security and policy experts meet to discuss improving intelligence on emerging security threats from biotech.


Scientists, sociologists and security and policy experts from the USA and UK will meet in London this week [on 13-14 September 2012] to discuss how best to improve intelligence assessments and analysis in relation to emerging security threats posed by developments in biotechnology.

Organised by the ESRC Genomics Policy and Research Forum – which is based at the University of Edinburgh - the Improving Intelligence Analysis for Emerging Biotechnology Threats meeting will set out to determine how best to enhance cooperation in anticipating, identifying, and responding to the possible risks posed by key technological developments within the life sciences, and the potential use of these by those seeking to pose threats or develop weapons.

Speaking in advance of the meeting, ESRC Genomics Forum Bright Ideas Research Fellow – and event coordinator – Professor Kathleen Vogel said:

“There has been a considerable change in the international political landscape since the Cold-War period, resulting in an increase in concern over states, groups, or even individuals who might be interested in using bio-technology to develop threats.

“Simultaneously, life science technology that previously might have been confined to major research facilities has become ever cheaper and more extensively available.

“Whilst it isn’t necessarily the case that the threat of a biological attack upon society is now any more or less likely, these developments do mean that scientists, analysts, and policy makers need to continually seek to improve the ways in which they work cooperatively, in order to maximise knowledge and understanding of biotechnological security risks, and establish how to respond to these most appropriately.

“This week’s meeting sets out to consider exactly how best the academic, intelligence, and policy communities can improve levels of cooperation in this area”.