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Choices on Biosecurity

This issue of The Scientist focuses on biosecurity. More specifically, it deals with the handling and detection of select agents, a catalog of about 80 bacteria, viruses, fungi, and toxins that US authorities have identified as particularly high-risk. See page 12 for a primer.Select agents divide the US research community like few other topics. Regulations for their transport and handling are considered either prudent or draconian, a minor inconvenience or a grave impediment, depending on who yo

Richard Gallagher

This issue of The Scientist focuses on biosecurity. More specifically, it deals with the handling and detection of select agents, a catalog of about 80 bacteria, viruses, fungi, and toxins that US authorities have identified as particularly high-risk. See page 12 for a primer.

Select agents divide the US research community like few other topics. Regulations for their transport and handling are considered either prudent or draconian, a minor inconvenience or a grave impediment, depending on who you ask (the article on page 45 could help you make up your mind). And debate is raging over the planned order-of-magnitude increase in the biosafety level (BSL-) 3 and 4 lab space being built to house research on select agents. Why is such capacity needed, and who is going to staff these labs? The opposing arguments are thrashed out on page 48.

There is also discord over research. One area of feverish...

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