Federation of American Scientists Module 1.0: Introduction
Topic: Control Efforts Subtopic: Balancing Scientific Freedom with National Security

Codes of Conduct Image

Codes of conduct for life scientists have been increasingly advocated as an additional means to reinforce the expected ethical norms and behavior of scientists. The Fink Report discussed the need for such a code to increase awareness of biosecurity issues. While individual professional societies may have such codes, one central to all biologists, including awareness of dual-use research, has yet to be developed and accepted. This need has been the topic of discussion by working groups for the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC), with guiding principles submitted by the US National Academy of Sciences. Codes of conduct were also addressed in a recent publication in Science ("Ethics: A Weapon to Counter Bioterrorism"), which proposes a "Code of Ethics for the Life Sciences" with nine key elements. The authors note that "the code [they] put forward is not the total solution, but it can contribute, in conjunction with other measures, to the deterrence of bioterrorism and biowarfare." While no one believes that codes of conduct will prevent bioterrorism, it is now widely accepted that they are necessary for raising awareness of the issue in the biological sciences community.

Back Next
Case Studies Biosecurity: Why Should We Care? History of Bioweapons Control Efforts Discussion References Home