This topic was written as an outcome of the ESRC-funded New Security Challenges programme titled Coding Research: Biological Weapons, Security & the Silencing of Science. The grant ran from February 2004 to March 2007, with Brian Rappert as PI and Malcolm Dando as Co-I. The strategic programme later became Global Uncertainties and in 2014 the RCUK Global Uncertainties Programme — Partnership for Conflict, Crime and Security Research.

Since 11 September 2001 and the US anthrax attacks, public and policy concerns about the security threats posed by biological weapons haveincreased significantly. As part of this, questions are being asked in many countries about what novel security threats might stem from biological research, how openly results should be communicated, and whether some lines of investigation are too ‘contentious’ to pursue.

With this have come calls from diverse scientific, policy and public quarters to undertake new responsive measures. As part of a strategy of response, many organizations and governments have suggested bioscientists adopt a 'code of conduct' to reduce the security concerns associated with their work as one way of establishing and policing responsibilities and thereby reducing threats associated with malign misuse of science, particularly areas associated with modern biotechnology. In 2005 under the Biological and Toxin Weapon Convention (BTWC), for instance, expert and State Parties Meeting were held to ‘promote common understanding and effective action’ on the ‘content, promulgation, and adoption of codes of conduct for scientists’.

This website aims to provide resources for those considering the place, purpose and prospects of codes.

On Dual Uses of Science and Ethics Experimental secrets Biotech Security Limits Web of Prevention