• Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture
  • Agriculture: A priority for sustainable development in the Americas

Synthetic Biology for Biotechnology Decision Makers

Event Date: 
San José, Costa Rica
  • Description
  • Program
  • Live Transmission



Synthetic biology (SynBio) is an interdisciplinary branch of biology that designs and constructs biological systems. Potential uses of SynBio can be enormous. However, its regulatory aspects are still under discussion. In the decision UNEP/CBD/COP/DEC/XII/24* from 17th October 2014, the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity established the Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group (AHTEG) on Synthetic Biology (AHTEG-SynBio).

During year 2015, Open-ended Online Forum on SynBio was carried out and the AHTEG-SynBio generated a technical report UNEP/CBD/SYNBIO/AHTEG/2015/1/3. Substantive issues were central for deliberations including an operational definition of SynBio, the relationship between SynBio and biological diversity, similarities and differences between living modified organisms (LMO, as defined in the Cartagena Protocol) and those products coming from SynBio, adequacy of instruments to regulate SynBio products and techniques, potential benefits and risks, and best practices on risk assessment.

Because of the importance of SynBio, IICA with the support of USDA, have organized this first seminar on the topic, which will be carried out in San Jose, Costa Rica, 16th and 17th March 2016. In this event, we expect to establish conceptual basis on the topic as a way to contribute to a clear understanding and proper communication of SynBio in the hemisphere.



- To contribute to the establishment of conceptual basis on Synthetic Biology and the relationship to other biotechnology techniques.

- To facilitate greater understanding of the current status in national and international discussions on SynBio and how each of the issues under consideration may affect national, regional, and international interests and agreements.



The SBS will be a two-day meeting to be carried out 16th and 17th March 2016, at IICA headquarters (San Jose, Costa Rica). Official language will be Spanish although English translation will be available.



- Officials from the National Commissions of Biosafety (NCB) or National Biosafety Authorities (NBA) from Central America, North America, Southern cone, Andean Region and CARICOM.

- Officials acting as representatives in the AHTEG-SynBio - Other countries (through IICA´s Web Cast system).


Wednesday 16 th March, 2016 Session I: Generalities on Synthetic Biology
8:00 a.m.Register
8:10 a.m.WelcomeLloyd Day, Deputy-Director General IICA
8:20 a.m.Presentation of the event and introduction of participantsPedro Rocha, IICA
8:30 a.m.What is Synthetic Biology?Fan-Li Chou (USDA, USA)
9:00 a.m.SynBio and its applications in agricultureMarcelo Freitas (Embrapa, Brasil)
9:30 a.m.SynBio Industrial ApplicationsNatalia Verza (Structrual Genomics Consortium, Brasil)
10:00 a.m.Coffee break
10:15 a.m.SynBio application in control of vector transmitted diseasesMario Henry Rodríguez López (Instituto Nacional de Salud Pública, México)
10:45 a.m.SynBio and environmental applicationsKent Redford (USA)
11:15 a.m.iGEM initiative in SynBio developmentMeagan Lizarazo, Ana Sifuentes & Ricardo Chavez (iGEM, USA)
11:45 a.m.SynBio multilateral foraFelicity Keiper (Bayer, AHTEG representative, Australia)
12:15 p.m.Open DiscussionModerador – Pedro Rocha
12:45 p.m.Lunch
Session II: Universities approaching synthetic biology – Costa Rica/TEC example
2:00 p.m.Trip IICA-TEC
3:00 p.m.Arrival to TEC /WelcomeTEC representatives
3:15 p.m.Visit to TEC SynBio laboratories Description of the TEC SynBio programAlejandro Hernández & Giovanny Garro (TEC professors)
4:45 p.m.Coffee break
5:00 p.m.Trip TEC-hotel
Day 2: Thursday 17 th Session III: Synthetic Biology and Regulation
8:00 a.m.Arrival IICA
8:15 a.m.Summary of previous session and group picture
8:30 a.m.Overview of regulatory mechanisms already in place to address the safety use of products of SynBioFelicity Keiper
9:15 a.m.Synthetic Biology and the Convention on Biological DiversityGenya Dana (Department of State USA, USA)
10:00 a.m.Coffee break
10:15 a.m.What are the expectations of researchers and developers about SynBio regulation?Moderator: Pedro Rocha
10.45 a.m.What to do in SynBio in the framework of CBD?AHTEG representatives: Sorka Copa (Bolivia), Luciana Ambrozevicius (Brazil), Jim Louter (Canada), Maria Orjuela (Mexico), Genya Dana (USA), Felicity Keiper (AUS)
1:00 p.m.Lunch
2:15 p.m.Final remarks and future actions
3:00 p.m.Back to hotel

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