Biotechnology forum identifies issues that need to be addressed

A recent forum on biotechnology threats identified several issues worth of attention, including the need for better conceptual models and the challenges of integrating the models into existing work practices.

Two different models were examined at the forum, including one by Homeland Security Department Deputy Assistant Secretary for Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Policy Gerald Epstein known as the "biotech revolution model," reports.

The biotech revolution model emphasizes the importance of codified knowledge and the material aspects of biotechnology with a fixed technological trajectory. Biotechnology, the model says, is becoming more powerful, available, familiar and decentralized. Because of this, the threat of bioweapons is expected to grow.

Under an alternate model known as the "biotech evolution model," researchers predict a slower, more complex and non-linear model of biotechnology development that would powerfully modulate potential bioweapon threats, according to

Discussions on both models centered on the need for a better conceptual model to explain changes and modes of technology transfer in the fields of biotechnology and the life sciences. Additionally, the forum agreed that there was a need to determine how the models map onto specific threats while taking into account social, economic, organizational and network factors, as well as technical issues.