Side event: Synthetic Biology & Synbiodiversity: How new biotechnologies are raising new philosophical questions for biodiversity conservation


Side event, MOP-08, Cancun
Tuesday 13 December at 13:15

Marie Khan Women’s Caucus Meeting Room, Sunrise Building, Second Floor

This side event will engage attendees in an interactive philosophical discussion about the conservation value of the diverse techno-life forms now being generated through genetic engineering and synthetic biology. Connecting biotechnological science, environmental philosophy and conservation biology in an interdisciplinary conversation, the event will ask questions around how we conceptualise and categorise biotechnological forms of biodiversity, as well as how we argue for their moral status and conservation value. The event will begin by providing an introduction to the biodiverSEEDy research project, which is working with both in situ and ex situ approaches to the conservation of agricultural biodiversity and understanding the role of GMOs within this. It will then give a brief overview of the range of new breeding techniques emerging within modern biotechnology and present a novel concept of ‘synbiodiversity’ – i.e. the diversity of biological organisms being created through the application of modern biotechnologies. This introduction to the topic will then lead into a facilitated interactive discussion and debate with the audience to collectively interrogate the questions of whether living modified organisms have conservation value as part of the biodiversity of life on earth and on what basis such arguments can be made. This side event will therefore help to explore and illuminate the range of different perspectives that exist on how we consider, conserve and care for the synbiodiversity of bio-technological organisms.