Information Hazards in Biotechnology

Gregory Lewis, Piers Millett, Anders Sandberg, Andrew Snyder-Beattie, Gigi Gronvall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


With the advance of biotechnology, biological information, rather than biological materials, is increasingly the object of principal security concern. We argue that both in theory and in practice, existing security approaches in biology are poorly suited to manage hazardous biological information, and use the cases of Mousepox, H5N1 gain of function, and Botulinum toxin H to highlight these ongoing challenges. We suggest that mitigation of these hazards can be improved if one can: (1) anticipate hazard potential before scientific work is performed; (2) consider how much the new information would likely help both good and bad actors; and (3) aim to disclose information in the manner that maximally disadvantages bad actors versus good ones.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)975-981
Number of pages7
JournalRisk Analysis
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2019


  • Biotechnology
  • dual-use research of concern
  • information hazards

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Physiology (medical)


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