MISCELLANY: Synthetic biology and International Law: weak consensus facing huge challenges

Author:
Xavier Pons Rafols
Catedrático Derecho Internacional Público, Universidad de Barcelona (Professor International Law, University of Barcelona. Spain) xpons@ub.edu

Abstract:
The dizzying scientific advances in the field of biology and biotechnology, which we are collectivelly refer to as synthetic biology, have defined new frontiers of knowledge. The latest stage in this process has been the rapid mastery of genome editing techniques, mainly CRISPR/Cas9 tools and systems. This study, from the perspective of international law, deals, on the one hand, with the implications of synthetic biology on human health, thus covering the bioethics and human rights perspective in relation to gene research and gene therapy; and, on the other hand, with the responses of international law to the challenges that gene editing and the development of modified gene drives present for biodiversity. In both dimensions, the weak existing international consensus and the profound interactions in a wide range of sectors of international law, with the presence of diverse international institutional mechanisms, are apparent, which is evidence of a multiple and complex normative crossroads.

Index:
1. INTRODUCCIÓN: LA BIOLOGÍA SINTÉTICA COMO OBJETO DE REGULACIÓN INTERNACIONAL.—2. LA EDICIÓN GENÓMICA HUMANA Y LOS DERECHOS HUMANOS.—2.1. Los principios jurídicos universales de aplicación a la edición genómica humana.—2.2. La gobernanza, supervisión y regulación de las intervenciones sobre el genoma humano.—3. LOS IMPULSORES GENÉTICOS MODIFICADOS Y LA BIODIVERSIDAD.— 3.1. La edición genética en animales, plantas o microorganismos y la conservación y desarrollo sostenible de la biodiversidad.—3.2. Los nuevos problemas de la seguridad en la biotecnología derivados de la biología sintética.—4. CONSIDERACIONES FINALES.

Keywords:
biodiversity; biomedicine; biotechnology; gene drives; genetic engineering; genome editing; synthetic biology;

Issue:
REDI Vol. 73 2 2021

Section:
Studies

Pages:
311-336

DOI:
http://dx.doi.org/10.17103/redi.73.2.2021.1b.05

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