Ensuring Adequate International Oversight of Synthetic Biology


Dear friends and colleagues

Ensuring adequate international oversight of synthetic biology

The 13th Conference of the Parties (COP13) to the Convention on Biological Diversity and the 8th Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties (COP-MOP8) to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety will meet in Cancun, Mexico from 4-17 December 2016. One key topic under discussion is synthetic biology, which threatens to undermine the treaties if action is not taken. Synthetic biology describes the next generation of biotechnologies that attempt to engineer, re- design, re-edit and synthesize biological systems, including at the genetic level.

The attached briefing paper by the International Civil Society Working Group on Synthetic Biology (ICSWGSB), of which Third World Network is a member, outlines the 5 key actions that Parties can take to ensure that there is adequate international oversight of synthetic biology:

1. Operational Definition.It’s time for the CBD to adopt an operational definition of synthetic biology to support on-going work on the topic.

2. Precaution: Gene drives. Gene drives pose wide ecological and societal threats and should be placed under a moratorium.

3. Biopiracy: Digital Sequences. Synthetic biology allows for digital theft and use of DNA sequences – this must be addressed by both the CBD and the Nagoya Protocol.

4. Socio-economic Impacts: Sustainable Use. The CBD needs a process to address the impacts of synthetic biology on sustainable use of biodiversity.

5. Cartagena Protocol: Risk Assessment. Parties at COP-MOP 8 need to clearly move forward with elaborating risk assessment guidance on synthetic biology.

With best wishes,

Third World Network
131 Jalan Macalister
10400 Penang
Email: twn@twnetwork.org
Websites: https://biosafety-info.net/and http://www.twn.my/
To subscribe to other TWN information services: www.twnnews.net

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