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Current Activities of the Online Forum on Synthetic Biology

At their thirteenth meeting, in decision XIII/17, Parties commended the work of the online forum and the AHTEG, and welcomed the conclusions and recommendations of the report of the Group as a basis for further discussion. The COP also acknowledged that the outcome of the work of the AHTEG on the operational definition is “synthetic biology is a further development and new dimension of modern biotechnology that combines science, technology and engineering to facilitate and accelerate the understanding, design, redesign, manufacture and/or modification of genetic materials, living organisms and biological systems”, and considered it useful as a starting point for the purpose of facilitating scientific and technical deliberations under the Convention and its Protocols.

Furthermore, COP extended the mandate of the AHTEG on synthetic biology, as established in decision XII/24, with new terms of reference as annexed to decision XIII/17, and extended also the open-ended online forum to support the work of the AHTEG.

In light of these decisions, the Secretariat has developed this page to implement the decision and to host online discussions of the forum.

   
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Current and Upcoming Discussions

Topic 2: Further analysis of evidence of benefits and adverse effects of organisms, components and products of synthetic biology vis-à-vis the three objectives of the Convention

Discussions will be held: 17-31 July 2017
Discussions open and close at 1:00 a.m. GMT

This discussion will focus specifically on existing evidence of benefits and adverse effects of the organisms, components and products of synthetic biology with the inclusion of references (journal articles, websites, etc.) to support the claims of evidence.

In order to facilitate a common understanding during the discussion, the term “organisms” refer to living entities, while the terms “components” and “products” refer to non-living entities.

Contributions are to be structured in a way that facilitates the work of the AHTEG by clarifying which benefits or adverse effects are being discussed and then to further specify if organisms, components and/or products of synthetic biology are being discussed.

Furthermore, please ensure that your intervention is linked to the CBD objectives by clearly identifying if the evidence that you are talking about is related to:
  1. The conservation of biological diversity
  2. The sustainable use of the components of biological diversity
  3. The fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources.

Background document for this discussion:
 
Synthesis of views
Synthesis of views

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Topic 1: Reviewing 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

Discussions will be held: 3-17 July 2017
Discussions open and close at 1:00 a.m. GMT

The topic of this discussion (to be held from July 3rd to 17th) will be:

“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”.

Participants are invited to focus the discussion over the next two weeks on the following three guiding questions:
  1. What are the potential negative impacts, including unexpected and significant adverse effects, of the most recent technological developments in synthetic biology on biodiversity and the three objectives of the Convention?
  2. What research and cooperation activities are being conducted on the possible benefits and potential adverse effects of organisms, components and products of synthetic biology on biodiversity to fill knowledge gaps and identify how those effects relate to the objectives of the Convention and its Protocols?
  3. Are there other recent technological developments that have taken place within the field of synthetic biology that need to be considered in this discussion?

Background document for this discussion:
 
Synthesis of views
Synthesis of views