I tend to deal with the technical aspects of the BWC treaty. So this is the treaty. This is the summary of the treaty. The treaty itself is 40 pages long. That tells you that it is certainly going to have detailed regulatory .. this is our attempt to summarize it.

What states sign up to do is pledge to not make biological weapons. Second, to not help or allow people to make weapons. Third, to stop people from making weapons, and finally to do this in a way that facilitates the peaceful use of biology.

So, I work with the BWC implementation support unit. We are housed in the United Nations System. The UN is not a simple organizaton, and is not straightforward, and it is not logical. For example, we sit in the Geneva branch, not the WMD branch or office. So, we sit inside the UN, but we are effectively a .. we report directly to the membership of the BWC (the countries). There are 165 countries. The job of my unit is to help states help themselves. We provide administrative support, we support their efforts to pass relevant laws and outreach efforts, we support their efforts to transfer info.

I am part of the 3 person team for the whole treaty. The review conference that you heard about, we reviewed last year, and the last 5 years. I am going to take you through a series of interesting projects.

I was at a meeting in London. Chatham House. It was looking at biosecurity and global perspectives. It identified the current practices- it is largely based on opinions. I assumed there was a science of biosafety, but it turns out there isn't. In these high-containment labs, there is a minimum number of .. per hour. How many time should we take a, how often should that be replaced? Nobody actually has done studies about why it should be 8-10, it was just somethign that someone wrote that they thought made sense.

Over the next few years, we are going to see work done in this area, so that the basic assumptions about safety and security make sense. The second reasno it's interesting is that it's a global thing. The tech in Europe/US might not be useful in other countries around the world. We're going to have to look at less resource intensive way to implement the same policies. There are going to be people looking at low cost options for biosafety. It's pretty likely that your community might have solutions that might address these issues. How to do safety and security on the cheap is a question that you are intimately familiar. I am hoping that there are tools and approaches developed by others around the world, that would have direct use for the amateur biology community.

I just want to point out that iGEM, I want to reinforce the message that Todd just made. It's as important, that you should be seen as doing things responsibly, as actually being responsible. iGEM has put a lot of work into making a security/safety committee, to reassure the organizers adn the general public that the projects have gone through some sort of safety requirements, and that local requirements have been met, and that risks have been minized, and that the environmental risks are minimized as well, not only the researchers. The takehome message is that this is a shoestring budget, Todd and I were 2/3rds of the iGEM safety commission.

The next one is a reinforcement of the other message: the benefits of working with law enforcement. This was a project runned by the UN, the regional justice unit, to address risks and policy responses to biotech and synthetic biology. They weren't really looking at nanotech at that time. There was a meeting on risks in Italy in 2010, and a second meeting in June 2010 in Geneva, and most of those ... government folks and international bodies, the discussion there, had a report, which is available now, and hopefully there will be copies. There's 25-30 here. It is also available online.


Although that report was about nanobiotechnology and biotechnology, we had some interesting discussions on DIYbio, and Mac was at one of the meetings. This report, the reason it's useful to look at, is that ti characterizes this community, it recognizes that those.. two scenarios, accidental release, deliberate release of an engineered organism, it comes to the conclusion that the risks of those scenarios are over-exaggerated. The shorter term risks are a mislead public about the amateur biology community. It looks at some efforts already taken, it demonstrates the importance of demonstrating the responsibiltiy. That is an encouragement to them, to develop your communities, and wise words that they will have to tailor their outreach efforts to speak to you as a community, but not just the same stuff from academia and industry.

A few reflections. This is a reversee shot.. a few reflections of the global scale. There will be no global law. The laws and regulations are different around the world. Biology in the US and Europe are different. There are many different contacts, histories, different factions, different priorities for many countries- some companies just want their citizens alive, some are interested in minimizing risk. In this biological space, a few of you know, an international governmental body that deals with this issue. There's little chance of harmonization in national arrangements, there is no one size that will fit all. And that means that we will live in a world where messages are confusing or completely contradictory, so that is why you shuold build ties with military folks. We are happy to put you in touch with folks in your countries, hopefully they will agree with building sustainable relationships, and put you in touch with national or international specialists, and help you build the source of relationships that we've been talking about.

Last one. Moving forward on synthetic biology. There will definitely be benefits to doing it right. This will distance these issues from synthetic biology; I hope it changes to perceptions.. regulatory framework.. There are costs, and that's increased public trust and government trust. I see a range of opportunities for both sides of this relationship. The BWC needs expertise about what can be accomplished in a resourceless environment. We need ambassadors who can do this with the public.

Amateur biologists need access to policy makers. I can give you access to the BWC. I think amateur biologists need to demonstrate that they are taking safety and security seriously. I look forward to working with some of the folks here to work on this issue. I want folks to come in and work a workshop at at the BWC meeting.