jueves, marzo 17, 2005

Mae-Wan Ho

'Biosecurity’ originated from a small group of scientists who met in 2001 to discuss how to keep diseases affecting crops and livestock from crossing national boundaries. Then, came the anthrax attacks post September 11, and the term came to be used for measures aimed at countering terrorist attacks involving biological agents or toxins. Suddenly, thousands of US scientists are caught in a web of new rules for keeping dangerous agents and substances, and even scientific knowledge, out of reach of bioterrorists. Biosecurity should come under the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) to which the US is signatory; but the US has rejected the Convention’s remit to establish a procedure to verify compliance with the Convention ("Bioweapons Convention –no progress in sight", SiS 13/14).

‘Biosafety’ refers to a set of measures aimed at regulating and ensuring the safe use of genetic engineering and transnational movements of genetically modified organisms. It falls within the scope of the Cartagena Biosafety Protocol under the Convention of Biological Diversity. The US is not a party to the Biosafety Protocol and has steadfastly refused to acknowledge it. The US position is that genetic engineering biotechnology is inherently safe, and only its misuse needs to be prevented.

It is clear that the BWC and Cartagena Biosafety Protocol overlap, and are both needed for effective control of genetic engineering and biological weapons. Of the two, biosafety is the more critical, although most of the attention is focussed on biosecurity.

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