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Parliamentary questions
19 October 2017
Question for written answer
to the Commission
Rule 130
Liisa Jaakonsaari (S&D)

 Subject:  Synthetic biology risk assessment and institutional oversight

Synthetic biology is a newly emerging and fast-growing field. As with many emerging technologies, the applications and products associated with it can be used as a vehicle for positive change and innovation, such as in the fields of medicine, materials and biofuels. However, these new applications also bring with them potential risks, and should therefore be evaluated from a legal, social, economic and ethical perspective. Key to mitigating such uncertainty is updating existing risk management frameworks developed for the related fields, such as genetic engineering.

Additional institutional oversight is also needed in order to fully assess the bioethical implications and potential ramifications of this emerging field.

In 2015, the Commission received a set of Opinions on synthetic biology from its Scientific Committees on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR), Health and Environmental Risks (SCHER) and Consumer Safety (SCCS).

1. How has the Commission taken these Opinions into consideration?

2. Has it updated risk assessment frameworks to mitigate the potential risks that synthetic biology could pose?

3. How will it address the broader need for institutional oversight regarding the development of synthetic life?

Last updated: 9 November 2017Legal notice