De-extinction The first completed issue brief. Download PDF
Synthetic Biology Governance: Delphi Study Workshop Report Download Workshop Report
- Plant Microbes
Goals & ObjectivesThe overarching goal of the project is to “unpack” the broad field of synthetic biology (syn bio) for more nuanced and productive policy discussions in order to help set priorities to risk-relevant data collection, organizational and/or legislative readiness for oversight and public and stakeholder engagement. To this end, the project team will develop 3 case studies of syn bio applications that are in early stages of development in order to critically evaluate the potential risks, benefits and societal issues posed by them, and to identify the strengths and weaknesses of existing systems likely to be used for their governance. A particular focus will be on convergent syn bio products (e.g. nano-bio or bio-robotics) with agricultural, environmental and industrial uses, as these areas of syn bio are currently under-studied. Upstream oversight assessment (UOA) (Kuzma, et al. 2008) will be used as the primary method of analysis. UOA is designed not necessarily to predict, but rather to prepare for governance of emerging technologies well upstream of technological deployment. It relies on stratified selection of case studies from research and development databases to cover a range of product-types and sector, and the subsequent analysis of cases. The syn bio typology developed by Kuzma & Tanji (2010) will be used to guide selection of a diverse set of cases. Specific research questions will include:
- What are the potential impacts on health and the environment associated with the syn bio application?
- What are the types of data and information needed to assess the risks and benefits?
- What are the associated uncertainties and how might they affect oversight?
- How can risk analysis methods be used in the face of such uncertainties?
- How might existing statutes and organizations be involved in oversight?
- Is there a non-syn bio analog of the product already on the market?
- If so, does the syn bio application warrant new or modified oversight approaches?
- If so, how should oversight change?
- What might be the broader societal issues surrounding oversight and how the research, policy or engagement needs to be addressed?