Biosafety lapses prompt govt. review

Accidents at university labs working with pathogens suggest an imperfect safety system

Susan Warner
Sep 24, 2007
Following a spate of safety lapses, universities are tightening oversight of research into potentially dangerous biological agents as Congress prepares to conduct a hearing into bioterror research programs, many of which were funded following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the US.Problems at university labs in Texas and Wisconsin have raised concerns that research designed to protect the public's health may, ironically, increase the possibility of accidental, or deliberate, exposure to harmful biological agents."Unless there is perfect security there are risks that these pathogens could be released into the community, workers could be exposed to them, or that these pathogens could be stolen," said Barry S. Levy, adjunct professor of public health at Tufts University School of Medicine and coauthor of Terrorism and Public Health. A Balanced Approach to Strengthening Systems and Protecting People. The safety concerns prompted congressmen John D. Dingell (D-MI), Chairman of the House Committee on...

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