Mapping the potential impact of synthetic biology on Australian foreign policy

Thom Dixon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Synthetic biology is an emerging technology that will impact on the future security and prosperity of Australia. As a discrete policy area synthetic biology has not been explored in relation to Australian foreign policy. To begin this process an understanding of Australia's genetic endowment, Australia's agricultural endowment and those security concerns novel to synthetic biology need to be developed. The convergence of the biological sciences and the information sciences is creating novel security concerns that impact on Australian sovereignty, both mainland and the Antarctic Territories, plant and animal health, and defence medical infrastructure. These concerns cross many traditional disciplinary and policy boundaries, an awareness of this is required and a nascent national practitioner community can develop this further. Drawing from work conducted by the US and UK synthetic biology practitioner communities, this article lays out the unique touch points synthetic biology has on Australian foreign policy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)270-288
Number of pages19
JournalAustralian Journal of International Affairs
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Synthetic biology
  • biosecurity
  • emerging technology
  • Australian foreign policy


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