Biosafety report: Synthetic biology – biosafety and contribution to addressing societal challenges


forsideSynthetic biology has become increasingly important as an approach and a tool to solve societal challenges, such as replacing fossil fuel, and to develop more efficient biological compounds, new applications for bioremediation, a platform for more efficient vaccine intervention and to improve drug targeting. As the potential of the technology and the scope of products and organism created by synthetic biology have emerged, it is clear that also biosafety research and regulation of synthetic biological products need careful consideration.

The scope of this report is to give an introduction to synthetic biology, the research and applications,  and the biosafety questions. The potential to learn from risk assessment of GMOs and the adequacy of current risk assessment methodologies are discussed and potential ethical and socio-economic by synthetic biology-based products and applications are adressed. Relevance and application of the Cartagena Protocol and international law to synthetic biology are presented together with a suggestion for a regulatory approach to synthetic biology.

Authors: Odd-Gunnar Wikmark, Trygve Brautaset, Sarah Z. Agapito-TenfenArinze Stanley Okoli, Anne Ingeborg Myhr, Rosa Binimelis, Lim Li Ching

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Wikmark, O.-G. et. al. (2016) Synthetic biology – biosafety and contribution to addressing societal challenges, Biosafety Report 02/16, GenØk-Centre for Biosafety, Tromsø, Norway