Objectives

Advances in the life sciences and biotechnology are having a significant impact on human life, generating benefits in a number of spheres such as health, food security, the energy sector and environmental protection. In parallel, recent years have witnessed growing concern amongst some policy makers on the potential risks that could come from the life sciences as a result of accidents, incompetence or even deliberate misuse. This problem is compounded by the seemingly limited awareness of, and engagement in, biosecurity related debates by many in the scientific community.

To respond to this challenge, the European Biosecurity Awareness Raising Network (EUBARnet) connects universities and organizations in the EU that are working on raising the awareness of life scientists on biosecurity. It aims at promoting information for students and young scientists, increasing the participation of scientists in policy debate on biosecurity in the EU, and appraise the European Commission on the status of education on biosecurity.

This is pursued through the preparation of interdisciplinary informational materials and organization of events and seminars on biosecurity. The EU-BAR-Net Partner Organizations and Experts are from various backgrounds and provide expertise on the scientific, ethical, policy, legal and environmental aspects of biosecurity, in a multidisciplinary approach.

EUBARnet is realized with the financial support from the Prevention of and Fight against Crime Programme (ISEC) of the European Commission – Directorate – General Home Affairs. It is Coordinated by Landau Network Centro Volta and partnered by the Faculty of Science and Technology of the University of Coimbra, the Department of Animal and Human Biology of the University of Turin, the Faculty of Science and Technology of the University of Uppsala and the Department of Biology of the University of Milan.

The European Biosecurity Awareness Raising Network (EUBARnet) aims at promoting information for students and young scientists; and increasing the partecipation of scientists in policy debate on biosecurity in the EU. This is achieved through firstly assessing the extent of both information on, and consideration currently given to, biosecurity in life science related academia accross Europe, and secondly to develop a interdisciplinary events to promote and promulgate education on biosecurity.

The network is thus a response to the recommendations of the EU Action Plan on Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Security of 2009, which asked to:

  • Develop in conjunction with universities and professional associations, minimal requirements for academic formation and training of undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate students on biosafety/biosecurity issues addressed to raise 1) correct knowledge and awareness on real risks and danger of potential misuse of information and biological tools (agents, toxins, etc.) 2) appropriate consciousness of related bioethical implications;
  • Develop guidelines at the EU level for minimum training requirements for persons working with, and having access to, substances on the EU list of high-risk biological agent and toxins;
  • Identify and spread good pratices on well targeted training for and education of individuals working with , having access to or handling substances on the EU list of high-risk biological agents ans toxins;
  • Identify and spread good pratices on academic training on biosafety, potential misuse of information and biological agents and toxins, and bio-ethics for undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate students.