This report contains an assessment of the risks posed by the convergence of biology and chemistry. Convergence in this publication refers to scientists’ increasing knowledge of the fundamental chemistry of living systems and the biology and chemistry production technologies resulting from that understanding. The report argues that convergence is increasing the overlap between the scope of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) because these new technological developments could be used to produce toxic chemicals and toxins through biologically mediated processes. Thus, a working group was assembled by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to study the implications of these new developments for arms control and report their findings in this document.
Since fully understanding the implications of convergence requires experts from a wide range of disciplines, the working group included industrial and academic scientists, defence laboratory scientists, toxicologists, analytical chemists and chemical engineers (including those with experience in bio mediated processes). The complete list of working group members can be found in Annex II of this document. The creation of the working group was proposed by the Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) of the OPCW. The OPCW is the intergovernmental body responsible for the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which entered into effect in April 1997. The organization has 193 member states and received a Nobel Peace Prize in 2013 for its efforts to eliminate the use of chemical weapons worldwide. This document is the final report of the working group, and as of September 2021, the report is only available in English.