Side event: Experiences from GenØks Capacity building program : Synthetic biology, uncertainties and contribution to solving societal challenges


Side event, MOP-08, Cancun
Friday 9 December at 18:15
Contact Group 8 Meeting Room, Universal Building, main floor

GenØk has since 2003 cooperated with the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on biosafety of modern biotechnologies. The overall objective is to build capacities for decision-making concerning the safe use of modern biotechnologies according to the goal to ensure a sustainable management of biological diversity and natural resources. These activities directly contribute to the implementation of the Cartagena and Nagoya Protocols in developing countries. In 2015 and 2016, the program extended also to include synthetic biology.

The increased interest of utilizing synthetic biology as a contribution to solving societal challenges, inevitably brings along the need for risk analysis and risk management, as well as understanding the potential benefits the technology brings. While some principles of managing traditional GMOs may be relevant for synthetic biology, the new ideas on making and utilizing synthetic organisms with novel building blocks and production of completely new compounds are leading to the need for different risk management strategies and new factors in risk analysis.

The capacity building course was designed for policy makers, regulators, scientists, academic personnel and NGOs as well as leaders from civil society. The objects were 1) to identify specific challenges and contributions of Synthetic Biology tailored to the Southern African and ASEAN regions; and 2) draw comparisons and experiences from uncertainties and risk management of GMOs and to investigating the current international and national legislations and regulations for applicability to synthetic biology.

Topics covered in the side event includes synthetic biology and environmental risk assessment, experiences from Gene therapy drug products and transgenic vaccines, relevance of international law and regulations and adequacy of current methodologies of ERA for synthetic biology. We will also hand out a full written report from the courses held.