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Facilitating a better understanding of biotechnology governance 

EMBO works to facilitate improvements in biotechnology governance. Emerging biotechnologies often evoke concerns about good governance, including those related to best research practices and ethics. We perform policy research, assess technologies, interact with decision makers and institutions at the European level, and engage the EMBO communities in this work.

EMBO has a long history of engagement in the policy aspects of biotechnologies, dating back to even before the Asilomar meeting of 1975, with discussions about safety and security issues in recombinant DNA research. In the last 45 years, whole genome sequencing, Crispr technologies, and applications from synthetic biology, among many other advances, have precipitated similar excitement and concern.

With any emerging biotechnology, there are always debates about good governance, including fairness, ethics, law and definitions of best research practice. Many EMBO Members, Young Investigators, and others in our communities have direct research interests in areas of biotechnology. In our analyses of emerging biotechnologies we consider especially the impacts of these new technologies on society, on the advancement of research, and on researchers’ roles in improving both.


We are currently engaged in two projects:


Fostering synthetic biology standards through international collaboration is a partnership of 27 institutions funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme to develop standards in biology holistically and systematically. EMBO participates in work on biosafety standards.



CHIC is a research and innovation project supported by the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme. Its goal is to establish a responsible innovation path for the development of new plant breeding technologies for chicory, a versatile crop. EMBO is a member of the stakeholder advisory group.

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