National Academies Press: OpenBook

Biodefense in the Age of Synthetic Biology (2018)

Chapter: Appendix E DISCLOSURE OF CONFLICT OF INTEREST

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Suggested Citation:"Appendix E DISCLOSURE OF CONFLICT OF INTEREST." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Biodefense in the Age of Synthetic Biology. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24890.
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Page 217
Suggested Citation:"Appendix E DISCLOSURE OF CONFLICT OF INTEREST." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Biodefense in the Age of Synthetic Biology. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24890.
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Page 218

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Appendix E DISCLOSURE OF CONFLICT OF INTEREST The conflict-of-interest policy of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (www.nationalacademies.org/coi) prohibits the appointment of an individual to a committee like the one that authored this Consensus Study Report if the individual has a conflict of interest that is relevant to the task to be performed. An exception to this prohibition is permitted only if the National Academies determine that the conflict is unavoidable and the conflict is promptly and publicly disclosed. When the committee that authored this report was established, a determination of whether there was a conflict of interest was made for each committee member given the individual’s circumstances and the task being undertaken by the committee. A determination that an individual has a conflict of interest is not an assessment of that individual’s actual behavior or character or ability to act objectively despite the conflicting interest. Dr. Patrick Boyle was determined to have a conflict of interest because he is an employee of Ginkgo Bioworks. The National Academies determined that the experience and expertise of Dr. Boyle was needed for the committee to accomplish the task for which it was established. The National Academies could not find another available individual with the equivalent experience and expertise who did not have a conflict of interest. Therefore, the National Academies concluded that the conflict was unavoidable and publicly disclosed it through the National Academies Current Projects System (www8.nationalacademies.org/cp). 217 PREPUBLICATION COPY: UNCORRECTED PROOFS

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Scientific advances over the past several decades have accelerated the ability to engineer existing organisms and to potentially create novel ones not found in nature. Synthetic biology, which collectively refers to concepts, approaches, and tools that enable the modification or creation of biological organisms, is being pursued overwhelmingly for beneficial purposes ranging from reducing the burden of disease to improving agricultural yields to remediating pollution. Although the contributions synthetic biology can make in these and other areas hold great promise, it is also possible to imagine malicious uses that could threaten U.S. citizens and military personnel. Making informed decisions about how to address such concerns requires a realistic assessment of the capabilities that could be misused.

Biodefense in the Age of Synthetic Biology explores and envisions potential misuses of synthetic biology. This report develops a framework to guide an assessment of the security concerns related to advances in synthetic biology, assesses the levels of concern warranted for such advances, and identifies options that could help mitigate those concerns.

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