NTI | bio Experts Propose New International Organization to Address Increasing Biotechnology Risks

In a new perspective penned for Science and Diplomacy, NTI | bio’s Margaret Hamburg, Jaime Yassif, Hayley Severance and former NTI David A. Hamburg Distinguished Fellow R. Alta Charo highlight the increasing risks of accidental or deliberate misuse of modern bioscience and biotechnology, and propose the establishment of a new organization—the International Biosecurity and Biosafety Initiative for Science (IBBIS)—to address this challenge and enable bioscience to flourish, safely and responsibly.

The challenging but vital work of reducing emerging biological risks associated with rapid technology advances is a peripheral concern of many stakeholders, and no international organization makes this their primary mission. National governments also have not been able to keep pace with these rapid advances and provide effective oversight for dual-use bioscience research. The authors suggest that “gaps in the biosecurity architecture highlight the need for a new international entity—one that spans multiple disciplines and sectors—focused on reducing the risks of catastrophic consequences due to accidents or the deliberate abuse of bioscience and biotechnology.”

The proposed new organization, IBBIS, will work collaboratively with global partners to strengthen biosecurity norms and develop innovative, practical tools to uphold them. NTI has convened an international steering group of experts to guide the development of this new, independent organization.

IBBIS is being designed to engage in the following types of activities:

  • Support the development of biosecurity standards for use by life-science funders.
  • Guide universities and industry in developing effective approaches to strengthen oversight of dual-use bioscience research conducted within their laboratories.
  • Work with publishers to update their guidelines regarding publication of manuscripts containing information that might be misused.
  • Develop proposals for governments to incentivize or require biosecurity practices.

To safeguard the benefits of bioscience and biotechnology research and development, the authors call on leaders from government, academia, philanthropy, and international organizations to support IBBIS and related efforts that promote responsible stewardship of science.

Read “Taking Action to Safeguard Bioscience and Protect Against Future Global Biological Risks” on the Science and Diplomacy website here.

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