The IAP – the global network of science academies – today issued a statement on ‘Realising Global Potential in Synthetic Biology: Scientific Opportunities and Good Governance’, that was prepared with the input of the Global Young Academy. Three of our members – Profs. Borys Wrobel, Marc Creus and Nico Dissmeyer – contributed to this statement.
The IAP statement on “Realising Global Potential in Synthetic Biology” highlights the different areas in which researchers are currently working with synthetic biology – for example, producing less expensive pharmaceuticals and other high-value chemicals, and next-generation biofuels. It calls for institutions such as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to take a balanced and evidence-based view of the potential benefits as well as risks of this new technology. IAP co-chair Mohamed Hassan states: “It is vital that global policy is not intentionally or inadvertently encouraged to introduce excessively cautious restrictions on synthetic biology that would deter innovation to tackle pressing societal priorities.”
The statement calls for better science communication where the scientific community engages with the public to clarify ethical and social concerns linked with synthetic biology as well with policy makers on the regulation of the field. Moreover alternative models of owning and sharing research (e.g. patenting or open source) should be explored and guidelines for scientific responsibility and codes of conduct in synthetic ability need to be promoted – which is also in the responsibility of the academies and young academies.