The Working Group on Strengthening Biosecurity of the United States has issued a set of recommendations to improve security at labs that handle dangerous pathogens and select toxins. The interagency working group is co-chaired by the Secretaries of the Departments of Defense and Health and Human Services. The major recommendation made by the working group is the stratification of the current list of 82 biological select agents and toxins. The report concludes that not all agents on the list pose the same level of security risk. Other recommendations include improvements in the screening of lab personnel, more comprehensive guidance on inventory management and recordkeeping in labs, and proscribing risk-based security standards for labs. The working group’s recommendations are generally similar to recommendations made by a 2009 report by the National Academy of Sciences. The Senate is currently considering legislation (S 1649) sponsored by Senator Lieberman (D-CT) that would implement several of the changes recommended in these reports.
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