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Biosecurity rules under review

Experts agree that the select agent program needs changes, but there's little consensus on how to fix it

Amber Dance
Amber Dance

Amber Dance is an award-winning freelance science journalist based in Southern California. After earning a doctorate in biology, she re-trained in journalism as a way to engage her broad interest...

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US Policymakers are evaluating the rules for working with Ebola, ricin and other pathogens and toxins that are deemed "select agents" because of their potential for use as biological weapons.
Bacillus anthracis
Image:P Paul Keim, linkurl:CDC EID,;http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/EID/vol10no1/03-0238.htm via Wikipedia
Congress is considering a bill to update the select agent program, and several national committees, including an linkurl:interagency working group;http://www.fas.org/irp/offdocs/eo/eo-13486.htm whose report is due for completion today (July 9), are debating how it should change. But the range of scientists' complaints about how select agents are managed suggests that consensus on the revisions -- expected this fall at the earliest -- will be hard to reach. The select agent program, created in 1996 and strengthened significantly in the wake of the 2001 terrorist attacks, regulates the people and institutions that use potentially dangerous bioagents. Approximately 12,000 people at about 400 facilities in the country have clearance to study the 82 agents...




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