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International Engagement Responsible Bioscience for a Safe and Secure Society, Workshop Three (2011)

In today’s world where interconnectedness and interdependence affect many global
challenges – from health issues, food availability, energy sources to economic stability
and security – cooperation and advancement in the natural and social sciences are critical
to addressing or reducing the burden of these global challenges. Collaboration among
scientists within and among countries both regionally and internationally have
contributed to strengthened capacity to deal with problems facing individual or groups of
countries. Cooperation among scientists has offered lines of communication between
countries where little or none existed before. Yet, despite the scientific and societal
benefits provided by cooperation and collaboration, the manner in which some of these
relationships were initiated and progressed raised concerns about the motivations of the
researchers and funders, conduct (i.e., for mutual or unilateral benefit), and ethical and
risk-based considerations of the research. As the nature of the problems the world faces
change, as science continues to advance to address those challenges, and as public
concern about ethical and risk-associated aspects of research increases, current and future
generations of scientists face the enormous challenge of conducting socially-relevant
research that is accepted by the public and can be translated to practical use.

The AAAS Center for Science, Technology, and Security Policy (CSTSP) initiated a
series of discussion-based meetings in the broader Middle East and North Africa region,
including Afghanistan and Pakistan (BMENA or “broader MENA”) to better understand
critical issues that underlie international collaboration and scientific engagement in the
biological sciences. This meeting was the third of four designed to address necessary
components for successful collaboration among scientists between the BMENA countries
and the United States. The first two meetings, held in Jordan in October 2010 and Kuwait
in March 2011 respectively, focused on the state of scientific and human capacity in
BMENA countries, national priorities to which existing biological research and
biotechnology can contribute, the scientific capacity needed to address national priorities,
and mechanisms (via development or through collaboration) by which countries can gain
needed capacities, and ethical and risk-based considerations of biological research.