| | |CBD |
|[pic] | |Distr. |
| | |GENERAL |
| | | |
| | |UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/18/INF/3|
| | | |
| | |20 May 2014 |
| | | |
| | |ORIGINAL: ENGLISH |


Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice
Eighteenth meeting
Montreal, 23-28 June 2014
Item 6 of the provisional agenda*

New and emerging issues relating to the conservation and sustainable use of
biodiversity - potential positive and negative impacts of components,
organisms and products resulting from synthetic biology techniques on the
conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity


Introduction


1. IN DECISION XI/11 ON NEW AND EMERGING ISSUES RELATING TO THE
CONSERVATION AND SUSTAINABLE USE OF BIODIVERSITY THE CONFERENCE OF
THE PARTIES TOOK NOTE OF THE PROPOSALS FOR NEW AND EMERGING ISSUES
RELATING TO THE CONSERVATION AND SUSTAINABLE USE OF BIODIVERSITY
AND REQUESTED THE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY TO:

(a) Invite Parties, other Governments, relevant international
organizations, indigenous and local communities and other stakeholders to
submit, in accordance with paragraphs 11 and 12 of decision IX/29,
additional relevant information on components, organisms and products
resulting from synthetic biology techniques that may have impacts on the
conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and associated
social, economic and cultural considerations;

(b) Compile and synthesize relevant available information, together
with the accompanying information;

(c) Consider possible gaps and overlaps with the applicable
provisions of the Convention, its Protocols and other relevant agreements
related to components, organisms and products resulting from synthetic
biology techniques;

(d) Make a synthesis of the above information, including an analysis
of how the criteria set out in paragraph 12 of decision IX/29 apply to this
issue, available for peer review and subsequent consideration by a meeting
of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice
prior to the twelfth meeting of the Conference of the Parties, in
accordance with paragraph 13 of decision IX/29;


2. In response this decision the Executive Secretary issued
notification 2013-018 inviting additional information on synthetic
biology and undertook a review of information in accordance with
paragraph 5 of decision XI/12 with a view to enabling the
Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice
to consider the proposal.



3. This note is based on an earlier draft, which has been revised and
completed in the light of comments and suggestion received through
a peer review process. Peer-review comments had been received from
five Parties, one other Government and from six organizations.[1]


4. It is accompanied by a second document focusing on gaps and
overlaps with the applicable provisions of the Convention and its
Protocols (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/18/INF/4).



Table of Contents


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 4


I. TECHNICAL BACKGROUND on SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY 7


1.1 Overview and definitions for synthetic biology 7


1.2 Supporting technologies 9


1.3 Areas of synthetic biology research 10


1.4 Current and near-term products involving synthetic biology 14


II relevant information on components, organisms and products resulting
from synthetic biology techniques that may have impacts on the conservation
and sustainable use of biological diversity 20


2.1 Applications of synthetic biology and their potential positive and
negative impacts 20


2.2 Biosafety concerns and approaches to containment 26


III additional relevant information on components, organisms and products
resulting from synthetic biology techniques that may have impacts on
associated social, economic and cultural considerations 37


3.1 Biosecurity considerations relating to biodiversity 37


3.2 Economic considerations relating to biodiversity 39


3.3 Human health considerations relating to biodiversity 43


3.4 Ethical considerations relating to biodiversity 44


3.5 Intellectual property considerations related to biodiversity 46


References 50



Executive Summary


1. One of the most commonly cited definitions of synthetic biology is
"the design and construction of new biological parts, devices, and
systems" and "the re-design of existing, natural biological systems
for useful purposes." Although there is no legally accepted
definition, there is general agreement that synthetic biology aims:
to exercise control in the design, characterization and
construction of biological parts, devices and systems, leading to
more predictable designed biological systems. Key features of
synthetic biology include chemical synthesis of genetic sequences
and an engineering-based approach. Synthetic biology represents a
shift in the driving forces of biology, from discovery and
observation to hypothesis and synthesis. Sometimes described as a
"converging technology," synthetic biology brings together and
builds on the fields of engineering, molecular biology, systems
biology, nanobiotechnology, and information technology.


2. Products of synthetic biology are often made using multiple
techniques of synthetic biology and "conventional" biotechnology
more broadly. Currently, the majority of current and near-term
commercial and industrial applications of synthetic biology use
synthetic DNA-circuits and synthetic metabolic pathway engineering
to