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International seminar to discuss exploitation of science for weapons development

1 July 10


Key issues around global security will be discussed at an international seminar to be held in Bradford later this month.

The Bradford Disarmament Research Centre and the Wellcome Trust Bioethics Group is hosting an international seminar 'Dual-use education for life scientists: mapping the current global landscape and developments' on 14-16 July 2010 at the Hilton Hotel, Bradford.

The focus of the seminar is the increasing risk of the dual-use of peaceful scientific research for the purpose of developing lethal weapons, an urgent global security issue.    
International experts from the UK, USA, Sweden, Denmark, Japan, Spain, Italy, Ukraine, the Netherlands and the United Nations, Geneva, will participate in the event. 

Ongoing developments in a range of scientific research areas (such as synthetic biology, nanotechnology, neuroscience and phytopathology, among others) are at risk of being exploited for the development of lethal weapons by rogue groups, states and individuals.  This is the "dual-use" scenario. 

The Wellcome Trust Bioethics Group is working on the development of effective global and local education policies, practice and ethics-based codes of conduct as a means to minimise the risks of dual-use within the global scientific community. 

This seminar will provide an overview of current levels of dual-use awareness and ensuing action in countries that have already begun to address this challenge. Recommendations for further work on the dissemination of dual-use awareness and engagement with other countries and organisations will be presented to the United Nations in Geneva in December 2010.

Dr Judi Sture, the Head of the University's Graduate School, who is leading the event said: "The recent announcement by US scientists that they have created a self-replicating bacteria cell in the laboratory has raised again the need for urgent and effective ethical scrutiny of biological research. In 2008 there was a call from the United Nations in Geneva for the education of scientists in this area to be highlighted and developed. 

"Our seminar in Bradford brings together international experts from the fields of education, politics, science, national associations and the commercial scientific community to share progress and discuss further advances that will enable us to improve the ethical education and scrutiny-skills of scientists and those associated with their work."

The event is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.  A further event will be held in Tokyo, Japan, in January 2011, funded by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, a Japanese governmental agency.

1 July 10

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Further information for Media Enquirers

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Out of office hours call 07879 437996. Alternatively, e-mail press@bradford.ac.uk or fax on (01274) 236280.