Scientists who work with select biological agents and toxins but who have not yet been issued certificates required by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) can breathe easier now. As long as such researchers have submitted all necessary documentation to the government before a November 12 deadline, they can be issued provisional registration certificates and grants of access if mandatory Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) background checks haven't been completed, according to Ted Jones, acting director of the CDC' Select Agent Program.

Last week, Jones told The Scientist that “final decisions haven't been made” on how to deal with researchers who had completed paperwork but whose FBI clearances had been delayed. The amendment now clarifies their response to this issue.

Under the “select agent rule,” researchers needing access to select agents—a collection of 80 or so bacteria, viruses, and...

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