by Trason Lasley
Trason Lasley SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY: IS IT PROHIBITED BY THE BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS CONVENTION OR OTHER INTERNATIONAL LAWS? Summer 2023 Int’l J. L. Ethics Tech. 2 (2023).
Available at: https://doi.org/10.55574/YCXH9594
Author Information: Trason Lasley, J. Reuben Clark Law School, Brigham Young University.
Abstract: Just as there continues to be a question on whether or not viruses are biological, scientists create new technologies every year that push up against what is and what is not biological. With these new technologies, it is almost possible to alter DNA using CRISPR/Cas9 technologies in one’s garage. Such a development begs the question, to what extent does international law relate to and prohibit these new technologies from being used as weapons? Synthetic biology is an emerging science that pushes up against what is biological and can be split into two categories, a top-down and a bottom-up approach. Are either or both approaches encompassed by and prohibited from being used as weapons under the Biological Weapons Convention or other international law? It appears that the Biological Weapons Convention covers and prohibits synthetic biology’s top-down. Still, neither the Convention nor other international laws prohibit the bottom-up approach—or more specifically, biomimetics, CRISPR/Cas9 genome-editing genome editing, and nanotechnology—because top-down synthetic biology reworks preexisting systems, while in contrast, bottom-up synthetic biology may be used to weaponized non-biological agents that can alter biological organisms.
Keywords: Synthetic Biology, Biomimetics, CRISPR, Nanotechnology, Biological Weapons Convention, BWC, International Law.
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Persistent link: https://www.ijlet.org/2023-2-1-27
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