Secretary General Kofi Annan of the United Nations warned Saturday that the potential for danger from the rapidly growing biotechnology industry was increasing exponentially and urged creating global safeguards.
Mr. Annan, in a speech in [Switzerland], warned of “catastrophic” results if recent advances in biotechnology, including gene manipulation and work with viruses, fell into the wrong hands.
“As biological research expands, and technologies become increasingly accessible, this potential for accidental or intentional harm grows exponentially,” he said, according to the text of his speech. “Even novices working in small laboratories will be able to carry out gene manipulation.”
In May, Mr. Annan called for a global forum on biological terrorism, saying current treaties were too weak and governmental and commercial initiatives too scattered. . .
“We lack an international system of safeguards to manage those risks,” he said. “Scientists may do their best to follow rules for responsible conduct of research. But efforts to harmonize these rules on a global level are outpaced by the galloping advance of science itself.”