Presentation Brian Rappert


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Presentation held during the workshop Biosecurity at the Science-Policy Nexus: Developing a Vision for the Future.

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Presentation Brian Rappert

  1. 1. Biosecurity: Dimensions, Responses, and Codes Brian Rappert
  2. 2. The Future of Life Science Research? “ Every major technology - metallurgy, explosives, internal combustion, aviation, electronics, nuclear energy - has been intensively exploited, not only for peaceful purposes but also for hostile ones. Must this also happen with biotechnology, certain to be a dominant technology of the twenty-first century?” Matthew Meselson Professor of Molecular Biology Harvard University
  3. 3. Biosecurity as… Biosafety Laboratory security Dual use
  4. 4. Biosecurity Beyond the Lab
  5. 5. What research should be done, under what conditions, and how should it be communicated?
  6. 6. US National Academy of Sciences Biotechnology Research in an Age of Terrorism <ul><li>Expand existing local and national safety review procedures for NIH funded rDNA research to include security </li></ul><ul><li>Apply new procedures to ‘experiments of concern’ in US e.g.: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Making vaccines ineffective </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Altering host range or enhancing virulence of pathogens </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Conferring resistance to useful antibiotics or antivirals </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Establish National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity to: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>review, survey and educate bioscientists including to ‘ develop guidelines for the oversight of dual-use research, including guidelines for the risk/benefit analysis...’ </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Capabilities & Threats: “ Returning to influenza as an illustrative example, advances in technology have led to the possibility that, even if a new lethal influenza A virus does not emerge in nature within the near future, one could be artificially generated through reverse genetic engineering…”
  8. 8. Some Curiosities
  9. 9. Everywhere & Nowhere
  10. 10. See J. van Aken and I. Hunger. 2009. ‘Biosecurity policies at international lifescience journals’ Biosecurity and Bioterrorism ASM journals - Reviewers and editor asked to identify paper “describes misuse of microbial systems or the information derived therefrom” (6/year) - All CDC ‘Select agent’ papers (10/week) Step 1 : Editor-in-Chief and ASM Publication Board talk Step 2 : ASM Publication Board meeting (1/year) Nature Publishing Group - Nature internal guidelines related to Fink Report and CDC Select Agent List Step 1 : Papers reviewed by a Biosecurity Panel to determine if security review is warranted. Step 2 : Review for security issues by experts (15 in 2005 and 2006)
  11. 11. What Sort of Response?
  12. 12. + = ?
  13. 14. Off the Radar
  14. 15. Informal Practices & Formal Policies
  15. 16. Coding Preliminaries
  16. 17. A Typology for ‘Codes of Conduct’ Prescribing or proscribing certain acts ‘ Code of practice’ Enforceable codes Provide guidelines, raise awareness & debate; foster moral agents ‘ Code of conduct’ Educational/ Advisory codes Alert; Set realistic or idealistic standards ‘ Code of ethics’ Aspirational codes Main Aims Designation Type
  17. 18. A Typology for ‘Codes of Conduct’ Prescribing or proscribing certain acts ‘ Code of practice’ Enforceable codes Provide guidelines, raise awareness & debate; foster moral agents ‘ Code of conduct’ Educational/ Advisory codes Alert; Set realistic or idealistic standards ‘ Code of ethics’ Aspirational codes Main Aims Designation Type
  18. 19. Prospects for Codes * Clarifying individual and collective responsibilities * Critique of ethics as ‘rule following’ * Limits to inculcating moral behavior   Ethical/Philosophical Question: Could S&T codes ‘work’? * Raise awareness * Foster norms * Re-interpret actions * Increase public trust * Establish base standards; esp. in new areas * Yes, if enforcement mechanisms * Effectiveness poorly understood * Rarely consulted or known * Often conflicting principles * Abstract guides need supplementing * As PR tools, maybe…   Applied Ethics Question: Do S&T codes ‘work’?
  19. 20. A BW Code of Conduct could… <ul><li>… entail ‘an overt ethical code of conduct linked to professional membership analogous to the Hippocratic Oath’ for those working with dangerous substances or pathogens. British House of Commons Science and Technology Committee (2003) </li></ul><ul><li>…‘ aim to prevent the involvement of defence scientists or technical experts in terrorist activities and restrict public access to [WMD] knowledge and expertise...’ Working Group of the United Nations and Terrorism (2002) </li></ul><ul><li>… provide ‘a solid framework for bioscientists …that would have universal recognition.’ President George W. Bush (2001) </li></ul>And then it could…
  20. 21. The Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) “The Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction, commonly known as the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) or Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC), opened for signature in 1972 and entered into force in 1975. It was the first multilateral disarmament treaty banning an entire category of weapons. It effectively prohibits the development, production, acquisition, transfer, retention, stockpiling and use of biological and toxin weapons and is a key element in the international community’s efforts to address the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.”                                              
  21. 22. Evaluating Codes
  22. 23. Pacing Science? More Prelude than Practice <ul><li>A three part breakdown of BW Codes : </li></ul><ul><li>1. Advisory : Official suggestions of principles - E.g., IAP, ICRC, ICGEB, BWC, NSABB, IUBMB </li></ul><ul><li>2. Advocacy : Proposals for what a code should entail - E.g., Council for Responsible Genetics, Somerville and Atlas, Pax Christi, FAS et al., International Network of Engineers and Scientists for Global Responsibility, Rappert </li></ul><ul><li>3. Accepted : Professional codes in place - E.g., IUMS, AMA, Society for General Microbiology, ASM, Australian Society for Microbiology </li></ul>
  23. 24. Codes as Furthering Awareness? <ul><li>Early 2007 </li></ul><ul><li>94 members of IAP; 69 signatories to 2005 Biosecurity Statement; 22 responses to questionnaire </li></ul><ul><li>13 academies distributed statement locally </li></ul><ul><li>5 established working groups </li></ul><ul><li>3 considering national code (Albania, France, Netherlands) </li></ul><ul><li>Early 2008 </li></ul><ul><li>71 signatories to 2005 Biosecurity Statement; 21 replies to questionnaire </li></ul><ul><li>National codes being additionally deliberated in Zimbabwe and Senegal </li></ul><ul><li>Additional activities in Poland and Israel </li></ul>
  24. 26. NSABB ‘Code’ as an Exercise in Deferral Considerations in Developing a Code of Conduct for Dual Use Research in the Life Sciences
  25. 27. Codes Talk: Reframing Utility
  26. 28. Reframing Utility by Shifting the Question From: Applied Ethics Question: Do S&T codes ‘work’? Ethical/Philosophical Question: Could S&T codes ‘work’? To: Pragmatic Question: Do ‘S&T codes’ provide a common focus that helps: reduce uncertainties, build shared agendas, define common framings, support networks, etc.?
  27. 29. Assessments of codes as contingent and situational Does ‘codes talk’ provide the interpretative resources to move the conversation on? Keeping up the Tension:
  28. 30. Codes at the UK Foreign Office 2003 - Seminar to discuss ‘ utility, scope, promulgation, implementation, reactions, enforcement and next steps.’ 2004 - Meeting wherein agreed ‘further work on codes should build on existing systems, but that an overall statement of core principles could be developed as a guide for such continuing work.’ 2005 - Meeting to discuss Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention meetings 2006 - Meeting where decided ‘The imperative was to keep the issue alive and under discussion. It was encouraging to know that the general consensus was that, if embedded in existing systems and both feasible and proportionate, codes of conduct had a utility.’ 2008 - Meeting considering ‘lessons from history; current activities in academia and industry; government initiatives; international aspects; and lessons from [chemistry] on educational aspects that might be relevant for the BTWC’.
  29. 31. Shamanism: ‘relies on corrosive scepticism […] in which scepticism and belief actively cannibalize one another so that continuous injections of recruits […] are required. They are required, so it would seem, to test and therewith brace the mix by serving not as raw material of doubt positioned to terminate as believers, nor yet as cynical manipulators, but as exposer vehicles for confession for the next revelation of the secret contained in the trick that is both art and technique and thus real and really made up.’ Scepticism, Belief, and Knowledge: Magic as Deferral - Michael Taussig ‘Viscerality, Faith, & Skepticism: Another Theory of Magic’