Unprecedented progress in biotechnology holds the prospect of historic improvements in the welfare of humankind.
Used responsibly, biotechnology can help address food insecurity, improve human health, provide solutions for environmental degradation, and help countries leapfrog in technological development. Used carelessly, or misused deliberately, biotechnology could inflict considerable human suffering — from the disastrous effects of bioweapons, to the accidental and deliberate spread of disease by state and nonstate actors. States, international organizations, industry, and the scientific community have so far failed to address effectively the challenges emerging from rapid biotechnological development. At the international level, there is no robust regulatory framework to prevent or mitigate the inherent risks, while expanding the benefits, of the biotechnological revolution.
Recent years have seen exponential growth in applied scientific knowledge in the field of biotechnology. The emergence of a biotechnological revolution has been widely recognized by governments, industry, and the scientific community as generating prospects for rapid advances on a number of fronts, such as improving human health, addressing food insecurity, and alleviating environmental degradation. As such, this Blue Paper lays out recommendations on the need to (1) foster a paradigm shift; (2) create a global forum; (3) reframe the concept of verification; (4) institutionalize incentives for transparency; (5) improve multilateral coordination; and (6) equip the UN to understand biological risk.