The US Senate today (June 11) plans to introduce a biosafety bill that takes small steps towards resolving some controversial aspects of the system regulating research with agents that could be used for bioterrorism. The regulations, called the Select Agent Program, have been controversial since they were established in 2002. Researchers have said that the rules linkurl:created red tape;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/14717/ that stymied research, hindered international collaboration, and prevented states from obtaining information on agents being studied, thus hindering biopreparedness programs. Some also charged that the list of agents was outdated, and that the program used an inappropriate classification system, which lumped safe agents with dangerous ones. At issue in particular was a restriction against work on smallpox virus, which extended to vaccinia virus that is not in fact dangerous. The new bill, introduced by Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) on behalf of himself and Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), extends funding for the...
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