Piers Millett

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Biological Weapons Convention Implementation Support Unit
Millett, Piers

Piers D. Millett is Deputy Head of the Implementation Support Unit for the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) housed in the UN Office for Disarmament affairs in Switzerland. He trained originally as a microbiologist and is a Chartered Biologist in the UK. He has a doctorate from the University of Bradford (UK) on the past present and future of anti-animal biological warfare, which focused heavily on the impact of developments in the life sciences on biological weapons.

He is widely published on issues related to preventing the acquisition and use of biological weapons and is a regular speaker at conferences around the world. Piers is also a member of the Transitional Board of Directors of the International Federation of Biosafety Associations, and a founding member of the Safety Committee of the International Genetically Engineered Machines Competition (iGEM).

Tue July 9 | 2:00 - 4:00
ABSTRACT: Safeguarding synthetic biology: opportunities to influence international policy making

The SB community, throughout its history, has successfully engaged with the societal implications of their work. Efforts by the community have been much heralded and have been held up as an example to other scientists. Community work in addressing security concerns has received particular attention and yielded concrete results. Much has been accomplished but now is not the time for complacency. Security efforts could still unduly restrict the promise of SB. Modern approaches to biology also pose distinct challenges to traditional security approaches. Often overlooked, SB also provides new opportunities to counter deliberate disease and the misuse of the life sciences. This presentation explores, through specific examples, emerging risks to and from synthetic biology from the security sector as well as opportunities for addressing them.  Better balancing science and security interests will be a major theme of international policy and public discussions over coming years as focus on ‘Dual-Use Research of Concern’ expands from a limited set of influenza research projects to biology and biotechnology more broadly. This presentation reviews three relevant international process of particular importance to the SB community: the intersessional programme of the Biological Weapons Convention, focusing in particular on opportunities to influence international policy making; relevant work of the World Health Organization, including February 2013 meeting on Dual Use Research of Concern on Current Issues and Innovative Solutions; and the work of the Temporary Working Group on Convergence of Biology and Chemistry of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Organization to Prohibit Chemical Weapons.