Experts are meeting tomorrow, February 28th, at King’s College London to address some of the key security questions raised by the emerging field of synthetic biology: Will it enable the creation of dangerous viruses from scratch? Will synthetic organisms be used to deliberately inflict disease? Could the life sciences become the death sciences?
Organised by the Department of Social Science, Health and Medicine (SSHM), the closed meeting brings together a group of 25 synthetic biologists, social scientists, policy experts and science journalists to explore the extent to which concerns about the misuse of synthetic biology for biowarfare or bioterrorism are realistic or exaggerated in the light of current scientific realities.
“The workshop will be an important opportunity to challenge some of the recurring myths about the security threats of synthetic biology that dominate discussions in policy arenas and the media” says Dr Filippa Lentzos, whose research focuses on these issues. “Our aim is to bring out some of the nuances and subtleties that are so often lost in those discussions.”
The workshop is part of SSHM’s on-going work on the social dimensions of synthetic biology, conducted within the EPSRC funded Centre for Synthetic Biology and Innovation and the Flowers Consortium, and the ESRC funded politics of bioterrorism project.
Note this is closed meeting by invitation only, but a report of the workshop discussions will be available in April and advertised on this blog. Meanwhile you can follow and contribute to this event on: #synbiosec