The AcCELLerator

Symposium on the 3rd of July - Current questions regarding Biosafety

As our project is dealing with viral vectors, we care a lot about the issues of biosafety. Among other things we took part in an interdisciplinary symposium dealing with “The risk of abuse in biosciences”. We heard presentations about the biosafety-relevant research in between freedom, progress and responsibility. There were two to three experts for every of the following topics:

  • scientific basics of biosafety-relevant research
  • biosafety in practice including research codes and research funding
  • legal framework of biosafety-relevant research in international perspective
  • risk ethic, research freedom and responsibility from a philosophical and sociological point of  view
  • biosafety relevant research and security against B-weapons

After every topic we had time for questions and discussions. In a short summary it is to say that research is very important, however there is always a risk of abuse. But this depends entirely on the person working with the subject of interest. In addition, there is also a special treatment for working with DURCs (dual use research of concern). Moreover, you have to be careful publicating your research results, but there should be no restrictions for publications.

The symposium was organized by an institute of public law and unfortunately many of the participants were not familiar with a lot of biological background knowledge. So speaking about these themes fuelled baseless fears and a lot of skepticism. As a conclusion we remembered that people needed to be more sophisiticated about the various possibilities of synthetic biology. For that reason we organized the air balloon event.