IRGC organised an exploratory workshop in June 2009, which concluded that IRGC could usefully propose policy recommendations for improving the risk governance of synthetic biology. A concept note was published in October 2009 to inform a multi-stakeholder expert workshop on “Risk Governance of Synthetic Biology” in Geneva on 26 and 27 October 2009. Participants from a variety of sectors, including government, intergovernmental organisations, academia, NGO and industry discussed about concerns and needs for the governance of risks related to synthetic biology research and development.Issues discussed at the workshop included:
- The definition of synthetic biology. Regulators must also decide whether it constitutes a technology or a biological science. The eventual regulatory pathway will depend on how these questions are resolved.
- Opportunities, risks and perceptions associated with synthetic biology are interrelated
- Risk governance deficits are likely to influence the development and acceptability of synthetic biology.
- Recommendations for the effective risk governance of synthetic biology.
Workshop deliberations were an important component for the development of the IRGC Policy Brief, written for IRGC by Heather Lowrie, (then) PhD candidate, and Professor Joyce Tait, Innogen Scientific Advisor, both at the ESRC Centre for Social and Economic Research on Innovation in Genomics, University of Edinburgh, UK.