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The 21st Century: The Age of Biotechnology

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This graphic shows the key technological innovations of the last two hundred years and forecasts that the 21st century will be shaped by biotechnology. Revisit Claudia Otto and Oliver Thränert’s CSS Analysis to see what this means for the Biological Weapons Convention. For more CSS charts, maps and graphics, click here.

No Universal Solutions: The Politics of Biotechnology in Europe and the United States

Neurons derived from human embryonic stem cells (hESC). Image from Wikimedia Commons.

In May 2003, the United States and several cooperating countries filed a case at the World Trade Organization (WTO) charging the European Union (EU) with maintaining an illegal, non-science based moratorium on genetically modified (GM) food and crops. Almost three years later, in February 2006, the WTO concluded that EU inaction between 1998 and 2004 had constituted “undue delay” in product approvals in violation of treaty requirements. That decision, however, did not immediately open European markets to American GM products. Indeed, in mid-2010 the European Commission proposed a legally controversial plan to allow member states to decide for themselves whether they wished to grow or ban GM crops—a sign of Europe’s continued inability to harmonize national differences concerning the implications of modern biotechnology for agriculture, environment and trade. » More

CSS Analysis: Progress in Biotechnology as a Future Security Policy Challenge

The next frontier of security policy? photo: Krystian "Krane" Schneidewind/flickr

In the newest CSS Analysis, Progress in Biotechnology as a Future Security Policy Challenge, Sergio Bonin examines how biotechnological advances might impact security policy in the future.

He notes: “If the synthetic construction and modification of bacteria and viruses should become a reality, a broad range of useful applications in medicine, environmental protection, and other fields would be facilitated. At the same time, however, constructing biological weapons could become easier, and the necessary skills would be available to a larger spectrum of actors. It seems advisable to explore preventive countermeasures at an early stage.”

For more, check out our Digital Library resources on biotechnology.

Feast or Famine?

Wrestling with questions of how to feed a burgeoning population, photo: Mr Kris/flickr

Growing population demands and the shrinking availability of arable land and groundwater resources raise questions about the sustainability of agricultural production. This week the ISN takes a closer look at the threats to the future of agriculture, and the technological advances that could help promote – or in some cases undermine – global food security.

This ISN Special Report contains the following content:

  • An Analysis by Peter Buxbaum on the promises and pitfalls of agricultural biotechnology.
  • A Podcast interview with Dr Ronnie Coffman on the dangers of wheat rust and the global efforts to develop more resistant varieties of wheat to mitigate the coming epidemic.
  • Security Watch articles about reducing pesticide use, racially motivated land grabs and much more.
  • Publications housed in our Digital Library, including the recently published Center for Global Development Working Paper on ‘Pulling Agricultural Innovation and the Market Together’.
  • Primary Resources, like the full-text of the US Department of Agriculture’s projections to 2019.
  • Links to relevant websites, such as to the World Bank’s Agriculture and Rural Development Department.
  • Our IR Directory, featuring The Borlaug Global Rust Initiative, which pursues the systematic reduction of vulnerability to stem, yellow and leaf rusts of wheat.