or pursued worldwide with respect to the dual-use risk posed by extant, emerging, and converging technologies. These strategies can be roughly categorized as one of three types: formal (e.g., state-level arms control agreements, including the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, or BWC); limited-membership consensus (e.g., the non-binding Australia Group export control program); and informal (e.g., codes of conduct for scientists).
Two important themes emerged from the lengthy dialogue on these various strategic approaches. First, several workshop speakers commented that no single approach will likely be effective by itself. For example, during the discussion on challenges faced by the BWC follow-up process (i.e., annual meetings being conducted as a lead-up to the 2006 Review Conference), it was emphasized that there is a danger in being too restrictive with regards to believing in the omnipotence of any single tool. The workshop participants also suggested that there is a natural tendency to overemphasize the potential contribution of formal arms control. However, the BWC is not the only tool available for managing the dual-use risk of advancing technologies.
Second, some workshop speakers emphasized that proposed solutions were dependent upon how one defined the dual-use problem and identified risks. This point is illustrated by the difference in perceptions between Singapore and the United States as to whether the bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei constitutes a risk. As discussed in previous chapters, B. pseudomallei is on the U.S. select agent list because of its dual-use potential. However, in Singapore, where the bacterium is an endemic soil microorganism, it is viewed as a source of naturally occurring disease.
The controversy surrounding the lack of a compliance and verification protocol to the BWC was mentioned several times during the workshop. An important theme to emerge from these discussions is that there are many non-verification related components of the BWC, as well a broad range of non-BWC efforts and accomplishments, that might play important roles in building and strengthening a global effort to minimize the dual-use risks posed by the rapid progress and proliferation of technological knowledge, technology, and materials. A comment was made that even if the BWC compliance and verification protocol had been adopted several years ago, it would not have been sufficient. Given the nature of the threat, particularly the constantly changing and unpredictable future of the global biotechnology landscape, a successful biological weapons control regime will undoubtedly involve a multi-dimensional approach comprising multiple components.