SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY – CBD Analysis

SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY
– Part I: Potential Impacts of Synthetic Biology on Biological Diversity
– Part II: Gaps and Overlaps with the Provisions of the Convention and Other Agreements
Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity
March 2015 :: CBD Technical Series No. 82 :: 119 pages
ISBN Web: 92-9225-584-3 pdf: www.cbd.int/ts/cbd-ts-82-en.pdf
Foreword
One of the functions of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice to the Convention on Biological Diversity is to identify new and emerging issues relating to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. To streamline the work of the Subsidiary Body, the Conference of the Parties, in decision IX/29, provided guidance on the procedure for the identification of new and emerging issues and on the review of proposals.

The Conference of the Parties first turned its attention to synthetic biology at its tenth meeting in 2010, where Parties, other Governments and relevant organizations were, inter alia, invited to apply the precautionary approach to the field release of synthetic life, cell, or genome into the environment. Consideration of synthetic biology as a substantive issue was subsequently placed on the agenda of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice at its sixteenth meeting in 2012, and since then it has been debated intensively.

Synthetic biology is a loosely-defined term for a range of techniques stemming from the combination of different disciplines, which adds a challenge to the debate. Moreover, as this field develops quickly, there are many unknowns regarding what products and applications will be technically feasible, commercially viable, and safe both for human health and biodiversity. In addition, questions of the adequacy of existing regulations to deal with current and anticipated components, organisms and products of synthetic biology as well as the social and ethical implications of synthetic biology are being raised.

The current document aims to support the international debate, and bridge gaps between the science-policy interface, by providing technical information on the potential positive and negative impacts on biodiversity that synthetic biology might entail as well as how adequately existing regulations cover the components, organisms and products of synthetic biology. This document was developed on the basis of information and views submitted by Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity and other stakeholders. It was complemented by background research to address relevant issues under the Convention…

Press Release
Comprehensive report on synthetic biology discusses impacts on biodiversity and reviews existing regulatory regimes
Montreal, 20 April 2015 – A new report from the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity discusses the potential for synthetic biology to have both positive and negative impacts on biodiversity and looks at the role and adequacy of existing risk assessment and regulatory regimes to evaluate the impact of these technologies…