In the past decade, public and congressional concerns over biological weapons (BW), and bioterrorism in particular, have sharply increased. Though the use of living organisms (e.g. bacteria, viruses, fungi) to harm or kill humans, livestock, or plants has never occurred on a large scale, many government officials are viewing a BW attack as a "when, not if" scenario. The United States has both statutes and regulations that govern possession and use of dangerous biological agents, though some have deemed these too loose to maintain effective control of these agents. Though no legislation has been introduced to date in the 107th Congress, legislation considered in the 106th Congress may be reintroduced later in the session. Federal programs intended to deter, respond to, and/or mitigate a BW attack exist in a broad range of government departments and agencies, and have been subject to criticism for lack of coordination.
CRS Report for Congress, RL31059