Date: February 21, 2004
Source: Sunshine Project
Abstract: Governments meeting in Kuala Lumpur today decided to begin discussions on technology transfer that include consideration of obstacles that are imposed by developed countries, such as export controls. Early this morning, Parties to the nearly-universal* Convention on Biological Diversity established a Programme of Work on Technology Transfer and Cooperation that includes consideration of systems that "present obstacles that impede transfer of relevant technologies from developed countries", a reference to, among other impediments, the Australia Group, the controversial "informal arrangement" by which developed countries, citing non-proliferation concerns, deny transfers of microbiological production and safety equipment and knowledge to many developing countries.
Developing countries and non-governmental organizations worked over the course of the last two weeks to insert export control studies into the decision. Earlier this week at the meeting's Ministerial Segment, a joint statement by dozens of NGOs attending the meeting called for government action to reform Australia Group export controls. As initially tabled, the decision was heavily biased against developing countries and in favor of rich ones and the biotechnology industry, which generally aims to export biotechnological products - not technology - to developing countries. Through cooperation between Asian, African, and Latin American countries together with NGOs, elements were added to the decision that corrected some of the imbalances.
Under the Programme of Work, the Secretariat of the Biodiversity Convention, working with a regionally-balanced group of experts, will prepare informational and technical studies of developed country obstacles to technology transfer, such as export controls. The decision also provides for the participation of international organizations in this process, which should enable the participation of NGOs. The results of these studies will be presented for political consideration at future meetings of the Convention, beginning with its 8th Conference of the Parties in Brazil in 2006.
Sunshine Project-US Director Edward Hammond, in Kuala Lumpur, is cautiously optimistic about the decision. The key objective of the Biodiversity Convention's work should be implementing a system of multilaterally-facilitated, safe technology transfer that ensures that the objectives of both the Biological Weapons Convention and the CBD are upheld. "The CBD and Biological Weapons Convention contain parallel obligations for developed countries to transfer biological technologies to the developing world," says Hammond, "Yet, in neither case, have developed countries fulfilled their obligations. We are hopeful that in-depth consideration of export controls by the CBD will result in strides forward that will enable safe, multilaterally-facilitated technology transfer consistent with the objectives of both Conventions. That will simultaneously enhance international security and provide for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, and a fair sharing of benefits arising from its use. The replacement of the Australia Group with a treaty-based mechanism that, unlike the present regime, enjoys the support of the developing world will, in turn, enable efforts to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention."
* The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is almost universal. The only major non-parties are the United States and Iraq, along with the much smaller states of Andorra, Brunei, and the Vatican (Sunshine Project, 2004).Title: Bio-Terror Hope For Bug Buster
Date: May 4, 2004
Abstract : A new bug-busting device which could help combat bio-terrorism may bring hundreds of jobs to Wales.
Bioantigen, of Port Talbot, and its German partners have developed the Biowhirlwind, which they claim kills all known diseases living in water.
It was put to the test at its official launch in the town on Tuesday.
Its makers say it has attracted interest from the Ministry of Defence as well as leading scientists from around the world.
Steve Law, of Bioantigen, said all microbes could be killed by passing water and air through a vortex in a steel cube at extremely high pressures.
The possibility of using the device if terrorists managed to contaminate water supplies or infect cooling towers at targets such as airports is being investigated.
If it finds a market Mr Law hopes it will lead to a huge expansion of the company, which currently has a workforce of 13.
"It's brand new technology but we like to think it's lo-tech rather than hi-tech," he said.
"In the centre of the cube is what we call the combustion chamber - that's where a vortex action takes place.
"Just using air and water at very high pressures we believe we can inactivate, in theory, any microbe on the planet.
"The main problems in terms of threats like bio-terrorism would perhaps be putting something bad into a stored water system or if it were put into a cooling tower and it them spread into the atmosphere.
"Our machine can treat the problem at source and make sure water stays fresh, clean and bug free.
"We've had calls in from America, Korea, China, in fact virtually every country you can imagine."
The company has grown rapidly, and further expansion would be inevitable, according to its founder, if the new device found a market.