March 27, 2012

The Art of Synthetic Biology Governance

  • 12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
  • Light lunch available at noon
  • 5th Floor Conference Room

Governments around the world are considering how to regulate synthetic biology in an effort to maximize the benefits of the emerging technology while minimizing the risks.

But it is crucial for any governance of the technology to address the concepts of “scientific uncertainty” and “cross-borderness,” according to a new working paper from the London School of Economics and Political Science’s Centre for the Study of Bioscience, Biomedicine, Biotechnology and Society (BIOS).

The authors of the paper, The Transnational Governance of Synthetic Biology: Scientific Uncertainty, Cross-Borderness and the ‘Art’ of Governance, argue that the implications of synthetic biology are “not only difficult to predict but are fundamentally unknowable.” Further, they stress the concept of cross-borderness -- the need for strong inter-relations between geopolitical regions, academics disciplines and industrial sectors.

To best consider these concepts, the authors recommend a “flexible and evolving ‘art of governance’” for synthetic biology, which would allow for communication between key actors and ensure that stakeholders are able to express their perspectives. The authors base their conclusions on an extensive literature review and work in the United Kingdom, China and Japan.

Join us at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars on March 27 for a discussion with Dr. Claire Marris, a senior research fellow at King’s College London and one of the report’s authors, about the findings and their implications for the governance of synthetic biology.

A light lunch will be available at noon.