Box 4-1
Some Key International Biosafety and Biosecurity Documents and Organizations

The Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or Other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare (Geneva Protocol), which was signed in 1925 and entered into force in 1928, prohibits the use of chemical and biological weapons.a

The Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC), which was signed in 1972 and entered into force in 1975, prohibits States Parties from producing, developing, or retaining biological or toxin weapons or their means of delivery.b States Parties retain the right to use biological agents and toxins for peaceful purposes.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540, which was adopted in 2004, requires States to ensure that their domestic resources are not misused to support the proliferation of biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons.c

The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity, which was adopted in 2000 and entered into force in 2003, governs the transfer of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) between countries.d

The Global Partnership Program Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction, which Canada as chair of the G8 started in 2002, is an international cooperative threat reduction program.e The program initially focused on non-proliferation and disarmament activities in the former Soviet Union but has since expanded to address threats in other locations. Over a ten-year period, more than $20 billion U.S. have been pledged to the program.

Australia Group’s Export Control Lists specify dual-use biological equipment, toxins, pathogens, and chemical weapons precursors that participating countries agree to exercise vigilance when exporting.f

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights, which was adopted in 2005, provides a framework for guiding ethical decision-making in medicine and the life sciences.g

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Best Practice Guidelines on Biosecurity for Biological Research Centers, which were published in 2007, are guidelines for securing repositories of biological information and materials.h

The World Health Organization (WHO) has put out widely used biosafetyi and biosecurityj guidelines.

Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL) (United States HHS, 2009) is a national document that is widely used internationally.

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) publishes standards for testing for terrestrial and acquatic animal diseases of global importance and standards for vaccine banks. The recommendations are widely used in international trade for screening animals and animal products.k

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has produced a number of publications on biosecurity for food and agriculture.l

The International Plant Protection Convention produces standards that may be incorporated into national legislation to reduce the spread of plant pests and pathogens.m

The International Criminal Police Organization works to stop criminal and terrorist use of biological agents and toxins and publishes bioterrorism incident pre-planning and response guides.n

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