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Ethics and Technology
TU DelftTU EindhovenUniversity of TwenteWageningen University
Ethics and Technology


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Biosecurity and dual use research

Many pathogenic agents that are important in life sciences research can be misused for developing biological weapons. To describe and analyse this situation a new concept was introduced in the vocabulary of the life sciences: dual use research. Discussions in scientific and governmental circles show that this new concept and the policy based upon it, is not always clear and undisputed. In this project questions will be treated that are related to the use of the dual use concept in life sciences and in society:

  1. What is the scope of dual use issues, e.g. what are the experiments of concern and why?
  2. What is – from a moral point of view – a realizable and acceptable policy in dealing with dual use issues?
  3. What regulatory framework should be put in place to deal with dual use issues; one that is morally acceptable, but also politically and scientifically feasible?

Aim of this project is

  1. Developing an acceptable, adequate and applicable definition of the dual use concept for researchers, universities, companies and policy makers.
  2. Describing and analysing moral and political implications of coping with dual use research in order to develop policy guidelines that are applicable and acceptable for science and government use.

The results will be translated in conclusions and recommendations for science and politics. This regards issues as: who should decide on the qualification of a research project as dual use? What are the implications? Which oversight measures and regulatory frameworks are desirable or feasible? 


This project has been funded with a grant of 125.000 euro by NWO, the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research.

Research partners

  • Prof. dr. B.G.J. de Graaff, Universiteit Leiden, Campus Den Haag, Center for Terrorism and Counterterrorism
  • Dr. J.J.G. van der Bruggen, Universiteit Leiden, Campus Den Haag, Centre for Security, Safety and Justice