Biosecurity as a Normative Challenge
The ongoing progress of biotechnology constitutes a major governance challenge, not least because the same advances that promise to enhance human welfare could potentially enable the development of novel biological weaponry systems. To address the multifaceted security concerns arising from the life sciences, a range of top-down policy initiatives and legally binding regulations have been introduced, but their overall impact on the practices of life scientists has remained limited. Given that laws in every sphere of activity are dependent upon the vitality of social and/or professional norms, the chapter aims to enquire into the normative foundation of the biosecurity regulations. It contends that there is a disjuncture between the conduct of life scientists and the rules pertaining to biosecurity stemming from the lack of corresponding norms in the professional culture of life science research. This disjuncture largely manifests itself in three forms, namely, ignorance of the existing biosecurity regulatory framework, arrogance motivated mainly but not exclusively by the belief that science should enjoy unconstrained freedom, and acts of open defiance of the rules. The chapter concludes by examining the value of biosecurity education and awareness raising in addressing the security challenges posed by biotechnology and fostering a culture of research that is keenly aware of and responsive to the norm of biological nonproliferation.
KeywordsLife Science Legal Rule Female Genital Mutilation Biological Weapon Life Science Research
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