Malcolm Dando

Articles by Malcolm Dando

17 January 2011

More talk, better security: The need for wider debate on strengthening the BWC

Malcolm Dando

There is an old joke that always makes me smile. It goes something like this:

A visitor to Ireland was in Cork and needed to get to Dublin quickly, so he asked a local what the best way to drive was. The answer came back after a short pause for thought: "If I was going to Dublin, I wouldn't start from here."

2 December 2010

Teaching biosecurity

Malcolm Dando

In his keynote address delivered at the International Conference on Science and International Security: Addressing the Challenges of WMD Proliferation and Terrorism in Madrid on November 9, Sen. Richard Lugar, Republican of Indiana, stressed the need to expand the 20-year-old Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) Program, which he and former Sen. Sam Nunn, Democrat of Georgia, developed in 1991 to secure and destroy nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons in the former Soviet Union.

20 October 2010

Science, development, and security: The Global Biological Resource Centre Network

Malcolm Dando

Sitting at King's Cross railway station in London, I suddenly became aware that people were looking at me. As a child, I have been told, I always laughed out loud when reading something I enjoyed; I have obviously not lost the habit.

23 September 2010

New blood: Civil society helps shape the 2011 BTWC Review Conference agenda

Malcolm Dando

The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) have evolved in interestingly different ways in the first decade of the twenty-first century. The CWC and its major international organization -- the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons -- have become rather opaque to civil society, despite a significant program of official activities.

16 August 2010

Synthetic biology: Harbinger of an uncertain future?

Malcolm Dando

It is hard to imagine that only three years ago, back in 2007, there was such a lack of awareness of dual-use and related biosecurity issues among practicing life scientists. Even the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) was almost unknown. For me, this brand of unawareness was confirmed when, that year, Alexander Kelle attended "Synthethic Biology 3.0", an international convention on synthetic biology that was held in Zurich, and interviewed some of the leaders in the field on dual-use and biosecurity issues.

8 July 2010

Neuroethicists are not saying enough about the problem of dual-use

Malcolm Dando

The minutes of many U.K. Ministry of Defense's secret committees' meetings held during the Cold War period are now available to the public in the National Archives. Thus, we know that one March day in 1959, the Chemistry Committee of the U.K.'s Advisory Council on Scientific Research and Technical Development met in London to discuss the possibilities for developing new chemical incapacitating weapons agents--including ones with neurological effects--something both the United Kingdom and its allies were trying to achieve.

15 June 2010

Reality check: No time to waste before the 2011 BWC Review Conference

Malcolm Dando

With the end of the academic year approaching and the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference already over, I had been looking forward to a little relaxation: After tidying my office, I planned to sit back and watch England win the World Cup in South Africa. Unfortunately for me, my summer plans were dashed when I realized that my office begged for much more than mere tidying. I was quickly brought back to reality--and that return to reality was not connected to England's chances of winning the World Cup.

8 April 2010

From nose to brain: New route for chemical incapacitation?

Malcolm Dando

I first realized the power of intranasal drug delivery after reading a 2005 paper in Nature entitled "Oxytocin Increases Trust in Humans." In it, the authors--several psychologists, neuroscientists, and economists--reported on a study based on a game that pitted two players against each other--an investor and a trustee. (You may be wondering what this has to do with oxytocin, a neuropeptide involved in mammalian social behaviour, but bear with me!) The investor has the option of donating his money to the trustee.

1 March 2010

Better incorporating ethicists into the life sciences

Malcolm Dando

In interdisciplinary discussions there are usually disagreements over terminology. I noticed this firsthand at a January seminar I attended in Australia that brought together some 40 natural scientists, social scientists, philosophers, ethicists, and policy makers to discuss the role and limits of ethics in regards to the dual-use problem in the life sciences.

25 January 2010

Down the rabbit hole of BWC verification

Malcolm Dando

Everyone is familiar with the nightmare in which they haven't studied for tomorrow's exam. As I've gotten older, and become a teacher myself, this nightmare has mutated into one in which I've forgotten to prepare the exam for my students! I recently had this nightmare in novel form on a subject I hold dear--international treaty verification.