Malcolm Dando

Articles by Malcolm Dando

24 March 2009

Biotechnology's crossroads

Malcolm Dando

Starting in the early part of this millennium, scientists and analysts forecast that advances in biotechnology and the rush to develop biodefenses were likely to lead to the development of a range of new biological weapons that defenses wouldn't be able to keep up with. Nearly 10 years later, the likelihood of these trends has not diminished, yet it is not too late to discourage the hostile exploitation of biotechnology.

4 March 2009

The risks of the "pathogen research enterprise"

Malcolm Dando

In one of his wonderfully funny children's books, Richard Scarry turned the idea of the clever fox on its head with his foxy character Mr. Fixit. Mr. Fixit is the repairman from hell, who wrecks everything he is called upon to repair. Rather unkindly perhaps, it was Mr. Fixit who appeared in my mind when I first heard that earlier this month the U.S. Army had stopped work at its Fort Detrick biodefense laboratories until it carried out an audit of what materials were in the labs. In expanding its research to protect against a perceived increase in the threat of bioterrorism, had the U.S.

4 February 2009

Opportunities to improve the bioweapons regime

Malcolm Dando

In the February 2009 Jane's Intelligence Review, Richard Weitz, director of the Centre for Political-Military Analysis at the Hudson Institute, assessed the current status of the chemical and biological nonproliferation regime. After considering the outcomes of the annual meetings of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC), which took place in December 2008, Weitz concluded that in 2009 these treaties would be challenged in many of the same ways they were in 2008.

22 December 2008

Building a culture of responsible science

Malcolm Dando

Earlier this year, I wrote about preparations for the December 5th meeting between States Parties to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC). I warned that in addition to agreeing to a broad agenda, the States Parties needed to begin acting to make this agenda a reality.

26 November 2008

Biological codes of conduct versus government oversight

Malcolm Dando

A recent conference, "Sustaining Progress in the Life Sciences: Strategies for Managing Dual Use Research of Concern," hosted by the World Health Organization and the U.S. National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) in Washington, addressed a range of issues, many of which map well on to the agenda of the States Parties meeting of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC) which will be held next week.

31 October 2008

Acting to educate life scientists

Malcolm Dando

Anyone familiar with the history of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC) will know that for years participants in BWC meetings have spoken about the importance of education in preventing the malevolent dual-use of biological technologies. Yet for all the bluster, the practical results regarding, for example, scientists' understanding of the convention and their obligations under it, have been limited.

1 October 2008

The merits of a biochemical framework convention

Malcolm Dando

The Bulletin has been hosting an engaging roundtable discussion on the "The Military Application of Neuroscience Research," during which neuroscientist Christopher Green challenged the notion that "traditional arms control approaches could be relevant to this domain." Referring to the recent National Academies study that he chaired, Military and Intelligence Methodology for Emergent Neurophysiological and Cognitive/Neural Science Research in the Next Two Decades, he wrote: "The

3 September 2008

How to update the biological weapons treaty

Malcolm Dando

In late August, I travelled to Geneva for an intersessional meeting of the States Parties to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC). The meeting, which included representatives from the expert level, considered biosafety, biosecurity, and issues such as awareness raising, education, oversight of scientific activities, and codes of conduct for life scientists. (Concise daily accounts of these proceedings are available through the Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy).

7 August 2008

European biosecurity efforts fall short

Malcolm Dando

The European Commission is on the right path among government institutions in putting issues of biosecurity and biosafety on the public agenda, yet even their efforts demonstrate how far governments have to go.

9 July 2008

Making the dual-use problem a "piece of cake"

Malcolm Dando

Some academic conferences are encouraging because progress is being made in a field. Others are daunting because of the amount of work that clearly still needs to be done. The conference I attended in the beginning of June, on "Dual Uses of Biomedicine: Whose responsibility?" left me feeling both encouraged and daunted.