BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – Implementing the US government's new program to prevent bioterrorists from seeing cutting-edge research results they could turn into weapons will be a significant challenge whose success is not assured, according to a panel of high-level officials who were involved in creating the program and who spoke at the American Society of Microbiology's (ASM) annual biodefense conference here yesterday (March 8).

“It will be difficult,” said Presidential science advisor John Marburger. “We are vulnerable to bioterrorism and we are not prepared.” Marburger said there is no certainty that the new National Safety Advisory Committee on Biosecurity (NSABB) will succeed. “Nor can we prove that this will work,” he said, but “we have to do it. These are facts of life we have to deal with.”

The problem is how to deal with so-called dual-use biological findings, ones that scientists could use for legitimate purposes but that bioterrorists might...

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