Biotechnology is moving swiftly and holds the potential to revolutionize many fields if properly managed.

Photo Credit: University Of Michigan School Of Natural Resources & Environment/Flickr

Quick Overview

We face dynamic new technologies that excite, frighten, and outrun us. Biotechnology is moving swiftly and disruptively while governments lag behind and struggle to catch up with the steps necessary to manage risks and advantages. Policymakers are alternately fascinated, confused, and lacking in confidence of the state of play, the drivers, what lies ahead and what steps need to be taken to facilitate, regulate, and protect against innovation in biotechnology.

Biotechnology holds the potential to revolutionize many fields, yet on the flip side new technologies may also pose real dangers when misused and detection of misuse is difficult. Uncertainty about the risk of misuse contributes to a lack of agreement among experts about the magnitude and nature of the threat posed by bioweapons and biotechnology as well as the costs and benefits associated with regulating high-risk research. The scientific and policy community remain divided about the need and efficacy of efforts to regulate and manage biotech risks. There is no clear consensus on the path forward and significant disagreement in the scientific community about the appropriate level and form of policing. Yet despite these obstacles, a lot of promising work is actively under way, and further U.S. engagement is needed.

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