resources in order to make the most efficient and safest use of genome data and experimental results, some of which might suggest how pathogens could be successfully enhanced. The committee therefore strongly endorses Recommendation 7 of Biotechnology Research in an Age of Terrorism, which calls for “the international policymaking and scientific communities [to] create an International Forum on Biosecurity to develop and promote harmonized national, regional, and international measures that will provide a counterpart to the system [recommended] for the United States.” An international forum to discuss the potential for the misapplication of life-science research should be convened in the near future to serve as a first step toward achieving harmonized international oversight. The forum should include broad representation of all interested countries. If conducted openly and in the proper spirit, the process of discussing these issues might actually build understanding, and some trust, among the nations involved and, eventually, help establish an international norm against misuse of genetic information.
Recommendation 5: The committee endorses Recommendation 1 of Biotechnology Research in an Age of Terrorism, which calls for national and international professional societies and related organizations to work to educate scientists about the risk that life-science research results will be misused and about scientists’ responsibility to mitigate the risk.
Recommendation 1 of Biotechnology Research in an Age of Terrorism calls for “national and international professional societies and related organizations and institutions [to] create programs to educate scientists about the dual-use dilemma in biotechnology and their responsibilities to mitigate its risks.” As noted under our Recommendation 1 above, we believe that although the risk that the growing power of biological and medical research could be applied for destructive purposes is unknown, it is not zero. All life scientists must be sensitized to the potential for the harmful misuse of the knowledge they create. The committee recognizes and applauds the efforts to date of numerous professional societies to educate their members and the public about these issues, and it suggests that such professional societies are the natural home for further efforts in this respect. They should expand efforts to engage their members in discussion of the potential benefits and dangers of the widespread availability of genome sequences and functional genomics data. Professional codes of conduct should explicitly require scientists to act to mitigate the risk of misuse of scientific progress to cause environmental or medical harm and require them to carry out their research with integrity to minimize the risk of misuse of life-science research for destructive purposes.