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Securing biological select agents and toxins will require developing a culture of trust
Date:9/30/2009

ion Service (APHIS). According to the committee that wrote the report, the list should be ordered based on the potential of an agent to be used as a biothreat, and a graded series of security procedures should be applied so that the greatest resources and scrutiny go to securing agents that pose maximum risk.

Personnel issues are often the most controversial and difficult aspects of maintaining security for BSATs. Security programs can be generally divided into two categories: screening individuals to determine whether they are eligible for access, and monitoring the behavior and performance of employees working with these agents. The current Security Risk Assessment screening process, which relies on screening more than 20 criminal, immigration, and terrorist databases to identify disqualifying behavior or activities, is appropriate, the report says. However, a change that should be considered is expanding the appeal process beyond a simple determination of factual errors to include the opportunity to consider circumstances surrounding otherwise disqualifying factors, such as the length of time since an offense occurred. Currently, any discovery of disqualifying factors or behaviors automatically and permanently denies an individual's access.

Improved communication is needed among those funding research on select agents, those administering the Select Agent Program, and those conducting the research, the report says. An advisory committee with members drawn from research institutions and the private sector should be established to provide continued engagement of stakeholders. Representatives from federal agencies would serve in an EX OFFICIO capacity. Rigorous and continuing evaluation of the Select Agent Program is needed to ensure that it is running efficiently and also to consider any intended and unintended consequences of operation.

The committee concludes that, because biological select agents can replicate, an undue re
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Contact: Rebecca Alvania
news@nas.edu
202-334-2138
National Academy of Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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