Climate change, nuclear proliferation, oil pollution, synthetic biology, and (bio)terrorism have convinced most people on the planet that global dangers require a global response. Biotechnology, especially gene-based biotechnologies, that change not just what we can do, and the future of life on earth, but who we are as human beings, should rank high on the global regulation agenda.
That global regulation is possible has been demonstrated by the World Trade Organization; that it is desirable is shown by the almost universal support of the Land Mine Treaty; but that it is extremely difficult is also evidenced by failed attempts to control trafficking in humans and their organs and tissues, the sex trade, and narco-trafficking. What can we learn from successes (like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the subsequent treaties, the International Criminal Court) and from failures (like the failed cloning treaty) in global regulation that can help chart a strategy by using civil society to build a global consensus on regulation with (or without) the overt support of scientists, physicians, transnational corporations, governments, and intergovernmental organizations?
Assuming agreement on what should be done on a global level how can we make it happen?
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