IBBIS Executive Director testifies to UK Parliament
On 30 April 2024, Piers Millett provided oral evidence on the biosecurity implications of engineering biology to the Lords Science and Technology Committee.

Dr. MillettĀ  provided some initial insights into how the creation of a genuine engineering discipline for biology could affect biosecurity and how recent developments in AI, machine learning and automated science are only making it quicker, faster, cheaper and easier to make things with biology, regardless of whether that is something to do good or something to do harm.

Dr. Millet highlighted the importance of DNA synthesis screening in helping to maximise benefits and minimise risks. Dr. Millett highlighted how the Common Mechanism helps to overcome known challenges to the adoption of DNA synthesis screening. He explored different approaches for requiring or encouraging the use of such screening, including embedding them in regulations or funding requirements, as well as the development of technical standards.

He also argued for embedding biosecurity, via engagement on responsible research and innovation, within international discussions around the bioeconomy. He argued that this may help contextualise the important of biosecurity for all those countries currently investing heavily in using biology as a manufacturing technology.

Dr. Millett also talked about his work on the UK’s Biosecurity Leadership Council. He described the value of having procedures and practices in place to build relationships and trust between those developing and using biotechnologies and those charged with preventing their accidental or malign misuse.