Synthetic biology and the categorical ban on bioweapons
Filippa Lentzos and Cecilie Hellestveit
Routledge handbook of war, law and technology
New York : Routledge, 2019
This chapter analyses the security threat posed by efforts to engineer biology by placing the threat in its technical, historical, social, political, and legal contexts. It deals with a short introduction to the scientific developments that are putting synthetic pathogens within reach at a rapid pace. The chapter discusses the interests and capabilities of non-state and state actors in applying synthetic biology to bioterrorism and biological weapons attacks. It argues that while the potential for state use is very low, this is where the most significant security threat from synthetic biology is originating – and not from non-state actors, which receive the vast amount of attention in policy discussions. The chapter explores the interest and capabilities of non-state and state actors in applying synthetic biology to bioterrorism and biological weapons attacks. Bioweapons might not have military utility in all contemporary conflicts, but they might well have utility in a small subset.