New CRG Report Biological Laboratories Risks and Regulations

by jeeg 8. August 2014 01:41

 

Recent high profile incidents at the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes have brought the discussion of biosafety back to the forefront of the public conscious. In June 2014, the CDC reported that eighty-four personnel were exposed to live anthrax spores that were supposed to have been killed. The sample had left the lab twenty four hours after it went though a killing procedure, instead of the forty eight-hour window that is recommended. While no one was infected, the incident set off a major scare at the CDC and renewed concerns about biosafety. Later in July 2014, it was reported that freeze dried vials of smallpox were found in an unused storage room at the NIH. Prior to this discovery it was assumed that all remaining vials of smallpox were kept either at the CDC or at VECTOR, the State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology in Russia. These two incidents illustrate the relevancy and risks associated with biosafety in today’s world.  As biosafety expert Michael Osterholm states in regards to the vials of smallpox and biosafety accidents, “I’m not convinced this will be the last of these potential situations. I wouldn’t be surprised if somewhere else in the world this same type of thing happens again.”

Health biotechnology and biological research has led to incredible advances in our understanding of the human body and healthcare. The growing importance of such research resulted in a rapid expansion of both public and private labs doing biological research, particularly in the San Francisco Bay Area. These labs conduct research ranging from drug discovery, genetic engineering, biofuels to infectious diseases. Biological research is conducted at 4 levels, with biosafety level (BSL) 1 being the least secure and biosafety level 4 being the most secure.  The issue of the expansion of the labs is the lack of oversight, at both the local and federal level and the risk of an accidents occurring because of the lack of oversight.

 

CRG's new report-Biological Laboratories: Risks and Regulations, explores this timely public safety issue.  The full report can be found at:

 

http://www.councilforresponsiblegenetics.org/pageDocuments/4SV5MSHR4S.pdf

 

 

 

 



 

 

 

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