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Understanding Biosecurity

Understanding Biosecurity

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Published by earthandlife
Drawing on the work of the National Academies, this booklet introduces some of the issues at the intersection of science and security. The life sciences offer tremendous promise for meeting many 21st century challenges. Powerful new tools allow the collection and analysis of vast amounts of information about biological systems — from single cells to global cycles — invigorating the life sciences community and spurring innovation in numerous areas. But with opportunities come responsibilities. An important aspect of scientists’ responsibility to society is captured in the concept of biosecurity — the challenge to move the life sciences forward for legitimate purposes while reducing the risks that some materials, knowledge, tools, and technologies could also be used to do harm. This booklet was developed to serve as an educational resource for students and the scientific community, to illuminate the importance of biosecurity, and to explore how scientists, organizations, and governments at many levels can work together to minimize the threat.
Drawing on the work of the National Academies, this booklet introduces some of the issues at the intersection of science and security. The life sciences offer tremendous promise for meeting many 21st century challenges. Powerful new tools allow the collection and analysis of vast amounts of information about biological systems — from single cells to global cycles — invigorating the life sciences community and spurring innovation in numerous areas. But with opportunities come responsibilities. An important aspect of scientists’ responsibility to society is captured in the concept of biosecurity — the challenge to move the life sciences forward for legitimate purposes while reducing the risks that some materials, knowledge, tools, and technologies could also be used to do harm. This booklet was developed to serve as an educational resource for students and the scientific community, to illuminate the importance of biosecurity, and to explore how scientists, organizations, and governments at many levels can work together to minimize the threat.

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Categories:Types, Research, Science
Published by: earthandlife on May 24, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial No-derivs

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11/13/2012

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UNDERSTANDING
 
BIOSECURITY
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Foreword
 As a scientist who has worked or over 40 years to nd cures or inectiousdisease, I nd the idea that terrorists would use biological agents as a weaponto be anathema. It violates the undamental values o the lie sciences that I andmy colleagues hold dear: that science is a vital tool or improving lie and thehealth o our planet and enhancing our understanding o the natural world.My own work has ocused on cholera, a disease responsible or the death o thousands o people around the world every year. During the past 40 years,research carried out through international collaboration o scientists has savedmany thousands o lives.Research with biological toxins and pathogens is both necessary and important,and our nation’s health and security depend upon our understanding their mechanisms o virulence. At the same time, we are rm in the belie that thisresearch should be conducted saely and responsibly. To date, the incidenceo either laboratory workers or members o the public being inected, whether  rom laboratory accidents or intentional action, is extremely small. Nonetheless,through the years, saety and security practices and procedures have beendeveloped that have successully prevented accidental or intentional misuse o biological materials.Scientists have not only demonstrated concern about these issues, they alsorecognize they have the most at stake should an incident occur. They are bestable to identiy potential risk, whether rom a laboratory door let unsecuredor the unusual behavior o a laboratory worker. It is or these reasons that we ocus on promoting a culture o responsibility, enabling and empoweringscientists to be vigilant stewards o their science. Care must be taken to avoidbeing overzealous and implementing procedures that don’t make lie sciencesresearch more secure, only more dicult to conduct—with results that maydiminish rather than strengthen security.
rita r. Clll
Chair, National Academy o Sciences Committeeon Laboratory Security and Personnel Reliability Assurance Systems or Laboratories ConductingResearch on Biological Select Agents and Toxins;University o Maryland, College Park, and JohnsHopkins University Bloomberg School o PublicHealth, Baltimore; and President and Chie Executive Ocer, CosmosID, Inc., Bethesda,Maryland. Adapted rom
Responsible Research with Biological Select Agents and Toxin
s (NRC, 2009)

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