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Sweeping controls on select agents

New US rules will be costly for labs and give government broad power to restrict research.

Peg Brickley(pegbrickley@hotmail.com)

New federal rules for working with dangerous pathogens and toxins will affect more than 1,500 institutions nationwide, costing each between $23,400 and $730,400 to implement next year. Those figures, and provisions banning certain types of experiments, leapt out at science advocates taking a first look at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revised final "Select Agent" rule, posted on the agency's web site December 10 for public review.

Scientists are studying the 84-page draft in preparation for public hearings Monday. Awaited since September, the new rule appears to apply to more research institutions than observers had expected. Just last month, some lab safety experts predicted only 200–to–250 laboratories might have to comply with the tougher bioterror prevention standards.

But a count by the interagency committee that drafted the rule revealed 1,653 laboratories with listed agents or toxins on their shelves. Most will have to pass through...

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