from Center for Preventive Action

Mitigating the Risks of Synthetic Biology

February 09, 2015

Report

Overview

Synthetic biology is a relatively new field that aims to make biology easier to engineer and more amenable to rational design. As the field expands, synthetic biology may become a pervasive industrial technology, replacing chemistry in applications as diverse as mining, environmental remediation, and the manufacture and production of common household goods and foods. However, synthetic biology may also be misused, and the advent of this technology has national security implications.

Gigi Kwik Gronvall, senior associate at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Center for Health Security and associate professor of medicine and public health at the University of Pittsburgh, discusses the possibility of biological accidents and the development and use of biological weapons in this new CFR Discussion Paper. She offers recommendations that address both domestic and international security concerns, highlighting ways to improve existing policies and build oversight for the use of synthetic biology.

More on:

Biotechnology

Health

This publication is sponsored by the Center for Preventive Action (CPA) and is made possible by the generous support of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. CPA seeks to help prevent, defuse, or resolve deadly conflicts around the world and to expand the body of knowledge on conflict prevention.

More on:

Biotechnology

Health

Explore More on CFR

Venezuela

In addition to a sharp economic downturn, Venezuela faces a humanitarian crisis. The United States can do little to prevent a downward spiral, but it should take measures to mitigate the political, economic, and humanitarian consequences of a potential mass emigration.

Italy

Italy’s elections will shape the country’s response to economic stagnation, migration woes, and European integration, with repercussions across the continent.

South Africa

The scandal-plagued leader’s removal could set the party of Nelson Mandela on a path toward reestablishing South Africa as a role model for the rest of the continent.