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AHTEG Current Activities

Terms of Reference for the AHTEG on Synthetic Biology

In its decision XIII/17 the COP extended the mandate of the AHTEG in accordance with the terms of reference listed below and also to contribute to the completion of the assessment as requested in paragraph 2 of decision decision XII/24.

In accordance with its terms of reference the AHTEG will build on the previous work of the Online Forum and Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group, and draw upon relevant information submitted by Parties, other Governments, relevant organizations and indigenous peoples and local communities through paragraph 10 of decision XIII/17, as well as information made available through the online forum and by the Secretariat, the Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on Synthetic Biology shall, in coordination with other bodies of the Convention and its Protocols:

  1. Review recent technological developments within the field of synthetic biology to assess if the developments could lead to impacts on biodiversity and the three objectives of the Convention, including unexpected and significant impacts;
  2. Identify any living organisms already developed or currently under research and development through techniques of synthetic biology which do not fall under the definition of living modified organisms under the Cartagena Protocol;
  3. Further analyse evidence of benefits and adverse effects of organisms, components and products of synthetic biology vis-à-vis the three objectives of the Convention, and gather information on risk management measures, safe use and best practices for safe handling of organisms, components and products of synthetic biology;
  4. In order to avoid or minimize any potential negative effects on the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, evaluate the availability of tools to detect and monitor the organisms, components and products of synthetic biology;
  5. Provide, for consideration by the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice at a meeting held prior to the fourteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties, recommendations on the basis of its deliberations to facilitate future discussions and actions on synthetic biology under the Convention, as well as an analysis against the criteria set out in paragraph 12 of decision IX/29 to contribute to the completion of the assessment requested in paragraph 2 of decision XII/24 by the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice.