Biosecurity initiative

Activities in 2009:
An international Workshop on "Promoting Education on Dual Use Issues in the Life Sciences" was organized by the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw from 15-18 November 2009, under the auspices of the International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (IUBMB), the International Union of Microbiological Societies (IUMS), the United States Department of State, and IAP. Participants included scientists, educators, and experts in biosecurity whose aim was to:survey strategies and resources available internationally for education on dual use issues and identify gaps; consider ideas for filling the gaps, including development of new educational materials and implementation of effective  teaching methods; and discuss approaches for including education on dual use issues in the training of life scientists.
The report of the workshop, produced by an international steering committee under the auspices of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, will be available shortly, with recommendations for next steps. In the meantime, information on the workshop can be found at: http://dels.nas.edu/bls/warsaw/

Activities in 2008: The Sixth Review Conference of the States Parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction took place in Geneva from 18-22 August 2008. The draft "Considerations, Lessons, Perspectives, and Recommendations" for IAP Members drawn from the presentations and working papers distributed to all BWC Delegates at the Convention include:

Scientists who become aware of activities that violate the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention or international customary law should raise their concerns;

Scientists should be aware of, disseminate and teach national and international law and regulations aimed at preventing the misuse of biological research;

Scientists with responsibility for oversight of research should promote adherence to these principles and act as role models.

The official report will shortly be available at: http://www.opbw.org/

Activities in 2007
Further to the endorsement of the IAP statement in 2005 on biosecurity by 68 world ‘s science academies and the participation of members of the IAP Biosecurity Working Group (BWG) in the processes of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC), the BWG was interested in gaining insight into the impact that the statement has had at the national level. More specifically, the BWG was interested in knowing what actions IAP member academies, as well as other national scientific organizations, communities of scientists and/or government authorities have undertaken in response to the statement.

The information gathered helped form the workplan for the biosecurity initiative in subsequent years, including ideas on:sharing within the IAP family information about new and ongoing national biosecurity initiatives; making recommendations to the IAP’s Executive Committee about the continued work of the BWG; expanding the network of IAP member academies interested in participating in BWG activities.
 

Activities in 2006
The Royal Society, the International Council for Science and the InterAcademy Panel on International Issues held a workshop on the scientific and technological developments relevant to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC). This invitation-only meeting took place at the Royal Society from 4-6 September 2006.

The meeting addressed scientific progress in the life sciences, encompassing fields such as immunology, agricultural biotechnology, and drug delivery as well as promising techniques such as bioinformatics and RNA interference. One of the objectives of the Sixth BTWC Review Conference, taking place from 20 November - 8 December 2006, will be to review recent scientific developments and to assess the ways in which such developments may be relevant to the Convention.

The workshop provided an opportunity for the international scientific community to contribute to these discussions. A full report (see link below) of the workshop was produced for the BTWC Review Conference. RS-IAP-ICSU will also be hosting a seminar at the United Nations in Geneva on 21 November 2006 during the Review Conference.


IAP Statement on Biosecurity (2005)
IAP released a statement on biosecurity, endorsed by 68 members, in December 2005. The statement was presented to the UN Meeting of Experts of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) in Geneva the following week. IAP members were urged to disseminate the statement to their national media.