The life-sciences community has grown increasingly concerned that dangerous microbes or their products might be mishandled or misused, with serious harm done to human or ecosystem health locally, regionally, or globally. The community has sought to address this concern in cooperation with responsible governments, but it has also sought to act in ways not chiefly dependent on governmental initiatives or intergovernmental agreements. Concurrently, it has sought to obviate policies materially restricting scientific, entrepreneurial, or commercial freedoms. I ask whether the enhancement of biosecurity and the advancement of bioscience should be accepted as divergent or might yet be made complementary, so as to be accomplished jointly. To encourage discussion of this latter possibility, I propose an institutional innovation, a transnational, nongovernmental life-sciences organization called here "The Biosecurity Trust."
Robert Sprinkle is a Senior Fellow at the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland.