The Warsaw meeting participants generally believed that scientific organizations could play valuable roles as partners in promoting and sustaining education about dual use issues, and could undertake mutually reinforcing activities to integrate education and awareness within the scientific community. One clear advantage is that scientific societies and other professional membership associations reach a significant base of working scientists in relevant areas of the life sciences. Their engagement provides authoritative and credible endorsement for the importance of addressing the challenges dual use issues pose. Such messages may also be more acceptable to scientists from such a source than from governments.
Participants acknowledged that capacity varied greatly among the organizations and that the splintering of the life sciences among many separate groups at the national and international level made the task of engaging “the life sciences community” more difficult. A number of these organizations are already active in biosecurity, however, as their roles as conveners of the workshop illustrated.
These organizations operate at the national, regional, and international level, as well as serving particular scientific fields. Even if nationally based, the organizations may have a significant international membership. The American Society for Microbiology (ASM), for example, includes over 43,000 individual microbiologists, approximately 30 percent of whom are international members. Regional and international unions and other federations of multiple societies can serve wider geographical and disciplinary representation and may effectively play diplomatic roles in conveying broad messages to their national members. Materials produced by one society may also be distributed for adaptation and use by others via these federations. In this way, smaller members may benefit from existing resources generated by larger organizations. The Interna- tional Union of Microbiological Societies (IUMS), for example, includes over 100 societies in 65 countries, of which ASM is one of the largest members. Similar unions exist in molecular biology (International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, IUBMB), chemistry (International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, IUPAC), and other related fields. The IUPAC Multiple Uses of Chemicals was described in Chapter 3, and as announced during the Warsaw workshop, the first IUMS regional course for graduate students and practicing professionals from developing coun- tries, “Antimicrobial Resistance in Bacteria, Fungi and Viruses,” held in Singapore in June 2010, included a short session on dual use issues led by Professor Geoffrey Smith, a member of the workshop organizing committee.
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