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Biotechnology allows humans to manipulate and create biological organisms, including pathogens and human cells. As such there is a risk that the technologies involved could be misused in order to cause harm to human beings, the ecosystem, or the economy. Securing the technology, and ensuring that it cannot be misused, is therefore a key consideration for any laboratory, organisation or country.
Introduction to Dual Use Technologies

Synthetic biology technologies and relevant research can be classified as being "dual use" - IE they could be both beneficial and detrimental to human societies, the environment and other organisms - with a very small window of difference between what is good and bad. For instance, the same equipment and reagents that could be used to produce useful fuels or medicines in microbes, could also be used to create harmful microbes that produce toxic chemicals or even biological weapons (pathogenic micro-organisms). 


"Dual use technologies can be used for good and bad"

As such, considerations of security, safety and sensibility are important within the synthetic biology field. Harmful impacts from synthetic biology could come in the form of an engineered pathogen targeting humans or a crucial component of the ecosystem (such as rice, a staple crop which accounts for approximately 20% of all calories consumed by humans globally). On the other hand, synthetic biology is considered to be an important component of bio security against pathogens - wide access to enabling technologies is considered to be an important component in research that can counter existing or emerging biological threats - be they man-made or naturally-occurring.