Synthetic biology and the categorical ban on bioweapons

Authored by: Filippa Lentzos , Cecilie Hellestveit

Routledge Handbook of War, Law and Technology

Print publication date:  May  2019
Online publication date:  May  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138084551
eBook ISBN: 9781315111759
Adobe ISBN:


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The relatively new science of synthetic biology is raising significant security concerns: 1 Will it enable the creation of dangerous viruses from scratch? Will it enable the design of radically new pathogens not found in nature? Is synthetic biology breaking down the boundary between expert and non-expert to such an extent that anyone can do this? This chapter analyses the security threat posed by efforts to engineer biology by placing the threat in its technical, historical, social, political, and legal contexts. This approach enables a more robust, broad, and deep consideration, which more often than not is lacking in the political and security discourse about the synthetic biology threat.

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