Doc. 9346

1 February 2002

Biological safety

Motion for a recommendation

presented by Mr Vladimir Grachev and others

This motion has not been discussed in the Assembly and commits only the members who have signed it

1.        The Assembly expresses concern about growing international terrorism in many regions of the world, the most terrifying example being the recent attacks in the United States of America. Also in this country, the introduction of a contagious disease - malignant anthrax - was used as a terrorist weapon for the first time. The spread of disease pathogens through the mail is a new and alarming form of terrorism.

2.       In this connection, the possibility of terrorist use, not only of known natural pathogens but also synthetic biological agents produced for peaceful purposes, is particularly worrying. Such use would not only endanger human life and health but also cause unpredictable and lasting damage to the natural environment, food chain and agricultural production, thus putting at risk sustainable development.

3.        The Assembly notes that the threat of biological terrorism increases as sciences such as microbiology, biotechnology, molecular biology and genetic engineering, develop. The products of these sciences can be genetically modified organisms or biological agents with predetermined characteristics potentially dangerous for man.

4.        The Assembly considers that the continued development of such sciences should be conditional on states ensuring that the biological agents produced cannot be used as potential terrorist weapons.

5.       The relative availability of such biological agents, as compared to nuclear or chemical weapons, should not be underestimated and the threats by some leaders of terrorist organisations of resorting to biological weapons should be taken seriously.

6.       The Assembly appeals to all countries for a strict observance of the Convention on the prohibition of the development, production and stockpiling of bacteriological (biological) and toxin weapons and on their destruction.

7.        Believing that measures should be taken to ensure biological safety worldwide and to eliminate the threat to life and health that biological terrorism poses, the Assembly recommends to the Committee of Ministers:

a.       to call on the governments of member states to organise a conference on biological safety;

b.        to elaborate a convention on biological safety and international legal acts envisioning liability for the use of pathogens for diseases of man, animals or plants, genetically modified organisms or toxins as weapons;

c.        to coordinate cooperation among member states in the field of biological safety and to create the mechanisms necessary for such co-operation.

Signed : 1

Grachev, Russia, EPP/CD

Behrendt, Germany, SOC

Chaklein, Russia, UEL

Ciemniak, Poland, SOC

Floros, Greece, SOC

Goulet, France, EDG

Graas, Luxembourg, LDR

Gubert, Italy, EPP/CD

Juric, Croatia, LDR

Kovalev N, Russia, SOC

Meale, United Kingdom, SOC

Mikaelsson, Sweden, UEL

O’Hara, United Kingdom, SOC

de Puig, Spain, SOC

Rogozin, Russia, EDG

Schicker, Austria, SOC

Timmermans J., Belgium, SOC

Velikov, Bulgaria, NR

1        SOC: Socialist Group

      EPP/CD: Group of the European People’s Party

      EDG: European Democratic Group

      LDR : Liberal, Democratic and Reformers’ Group

      UEL: Group of the Unified European Left

      NR: not registered in a group