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Joint Committee on Dual Use

Legal framework and grant of security-relevant research

Security-relevant research is subject to a number of legal provisions in Germany. In the field of life sciences, these include, for example the Biological Substances Ordinance, the Genetic Engineering Act and the Infection Protection Law, which are intended to ensure optimal biological safety and biological security.

The abuse of security-relevant research is prevented, above all, by the regular criminal law and the export regulations of the Federal Office of Economics and Export Control (Bundesamt für Wirtschaft und Ausfuhrkontrolle, BAFA). The BAFA implements the EU's authorization obligations and procedures for the export of goods (e.g. chemicals, machinery, technologies, materials or software) which can be used for both civilian and military purposes.

The United Nations Biological and Chemical Weapons Conventions (BWC and CWC), which have been ratified not only by Germany but also by the majority of countries worldwide, prohibit the production, storage and distribution of chemical and biological weapons. Building on the CWC of 1993, an expert group from 24 states presented the "Hague Ethical Guidelines". These ethical guidelines call on chemical and academic employees to deal responsibly with appropriate risks and prevent abuse.
The DFG refers to the “Recommendations for Handling Security-Relevant Research” on its website under the section “Principles of DFG Funding” and in its instructions for funding proposals. The DFG asks applicants to check their projects for security-relevant aspects before submitting their funding proposal and, if necessary, submit a statement on the risk-benefit ratio and possible risk minimization measures.

The EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020 already requires funding applications to include an ethics self-assessment of the potential risks of misuse of the research project that could pose a threat to human beings, animals and the environment, and recommends establishing advisory bodies to deal with these ethical issues.




Joint Committee on the Handling of Security-Relevant Research, DFG and Leopoldina

Office c/o ABC Business Center (4. OG)
Friedrichstraße 79
10117 Berlin

Dr. Johannes Fritsch

Dr. Johannes Fritsch

Head of the Office

phone: +49 (0) 160 9121 2676
email: johannes.fritsch@leopoldina.org

Lena Diekmann

Lena Diekmann

Project Coordinator

phone: +49 (0)170 79 206 49
email: lena.diekmann@leopoldina.org

Dr. Anita Krätzner-Ebert

Dr. Anita Krätzner-Ebert

Scientific Officer

phone: +49 (0) 175 293 3935
email: anita.kraetzner-ebert@leopoldina.org

Dr. Katarina Timofeev

Contact at the German Research Foundation

phone: +49 (0) 228 - 885 2591
fax: +49 (0) 228 - 885 713 320
email: dual-use@dfg.de

Dr. Ingrid Ohlert

Contact at the German Research Foundation

phone: +49 (0) 228 - 885 2258
fax: +49 (0) 228 - 885 713 320
email: ingrid.ohlert@dfg.de