NTI | bio Offers Biosecurity Solutions at the Biological Weapons Convention Review Conference

In late November and early December, the NTI | bio team participated in the 9th Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) in Geneva, Switzerland. The 2022 BWC Review Conference comes at a critical period as Russia’s ongoing disinformation campaign seeks to weaken global norms and as the Convention grapples with the challenges and opportunities posed by bioscience and biotechnology advances.

On December 6, NTI hosted a side event showcasing our progress in developing a new international organization, the International Biosafety and Biosecurity Initiative for Science (IBBIS), and the groundbreaking international Common Mechanism for DNA synthesis screening. NTI premiered a new video about IBBIS—its mission, role, and work—at the event.

The event featured NTI Biological Policy and Programs Vice President Jaime Yassif, Birmingham University Research Fellow Nicole Wheeler, IBBIS Executive Director Piers Millett, Twist Bioscience head of Biosecurity James Diggans, and DNA Script Co-Founder and COO Sylvain Gariel. Speakers discussed the need for DNA synthesis screening to prevent misuse of synthetic DNA by malicious actors, how the process of DNA screening works within industry, and proposals for how IBBIS can strengthen global biosecurity norms and build practical tools to support screening and other risk reduction activities throughout the bioscience and biotechnology research and development lifecycle. Watch the recording of the event.

On December 7, NTI held a second side event featuring Yassif, former UN High Representative for Disarmament and NTI senior advisor Angela Kane, and Columbia University’s Wilmot James. The panelists introduced the idea of establishing a new Joint Assessment Mechanism to rapidly assess biological events of unknown origin. Following the presentation, attendees and panelists engaged in a rich discussion about the proposal’s value and feasibility. More than 100 attendees from a range of backgrounds, organizations, and nations attended these two NTI-hosted side events.

Earlier in the Review Conference, as part of NTI’s work to cultivate the next generation of biosecurity leaders, NTI’s Gabrielle Essix helped lead a group of youth delegates that advocated for recommendations for BWC States Parties to strengthen the global biosecurity regime. Next-generation leaders urged country delegates and experts to adopt their recommendations, developed with support from Essix, at an official side event.

NTI | bio’s robust discussions on the margins of the Review Conference underscored widespread interest in taking action to safeguard biotechnology and to strengthen the global norm against bioweapon development and use.

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