Bio-terror research safety issues

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17502409_sBio terror research must be conducted in “almost” safe conditions, even if this slows down the process, according to an Israeli source. The source was only ready to say that in the foreign press there have been reports about such research in Israel “I read papers like you” he said and reminded the fact that Israel is the only country with citizens having personal gas masks.

In the meantime the bio-terror research in the U.S creates heavy questions. One came up recently in the Congress. According to a report quoted in i-HlS today, US laboratories carrying out research on bio-terror germs such as anthrax are at an unacceptable risk of accidents because there are no uniform building and operation standards, a Congressional investigative group reports.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) said federal officials have failed to develop national standards, even though the GAO called for their implementation three years ago.

The report, released on Monday, said: “This deficiency may be more critical today than three years ago because current budget constraints make prioritization essential.”

Security at bio-terror labs has been a hot issue since the 9/11 atrocities and the 2001 anthrax letter attacks that killed five people in the US and left 17 sick. A US government scientist who worked at an Army bio-defense lab at Fort Detrick, Maryland, was implicated in the attack, but he killed himself before the case could go to court.
Monday’s report said: “GAO found a continued lack of national standards for the design, construction, commissioning, and operation of high-containment laboratories. In the absence of some fundamental criteria, each laboratory can be designed, constructed, and maintained according to local requirements. This will make it difficult to be able to assess and guarantee safety, as we noted in our 2009 report.”

The GAO called on the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy to “ensure that periodic assessments of national bio-defense research and development needs are conducted”.