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The number of reported accidents involving dangerous microbes grew rapidly from just sixteen in 2004 to 128 in 2008, and 269 in 2010, the last year reported.
Experts note that currently there is no single federal agency responsible for assessing overall laboratory needs — instead, departments and agencies only assess the needs for labs relative to their respective missions.
According to HomeLand Security News Wire the recent accounts of mishaps at federal laboratories involving anthrax, bird flu, and smallpox have led many to question the government’s handling of dangerous pathogens.
The number of incidents which have occurred over the past few years at academic, commercial, and government labs which operate without clear standards or oversight continues to increase.
The 2001 anthrax scare generated an increase in “high-level containment” labs designed to work with dangerous microbes.
In 2013 the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that no single federal agency was responsible for assessing overall laboratory needs — instead, departments and agencies only assessed the needs for labs relative to their respective missions.
“We therefore determined that a national strategy for oversight, including periodic assessments of the nation’s need for these laboratories, was called for,” the reported stated.
The GAO warned Congress last week, as it did in its 2013 report, that approving more high-level containment labs will increase the risk of laboratory accidents, accidents which could pose risks to human, animal, and plant life, especially in a field in which oversight is “fragmented and largely self-policing.”