Global Progress on Biosecurity: U.S. Vision and International Efforts   [open pdf - 26KB]

Dr. Marc L. Ostfield, Senior Advisor of Bioterrorism, Biodefense, and Health Security, remarks to the Partnership for Global Security, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington, DC, March 9, 2007: "It's probably worth beginning with a brief mention of terminology - and some of the concerns about the term 'biosecurity' that bring us together today. As many know, this term often translates very poorly into other languages; in Spanish, French, Arabic, and Mandarin, for example, the terms 'biosecurity' and 'biosafety' (and their shades of meaning) conflate into only one word in translation. To add another level of complexity to the linguistic confusion, 'biosecurity' has many different meanings in different areas of specialization. For instance, to an agricultural specialist, biosecurity could mean measures to reduce transmission of disease among animals. For some scientists, biosecurity could refer to the challenge of 'dual use' technology or research. In the corporate world, biosecurity can mean prevention of intellectual property theft. In other contexts, some define it broadly to refer to any measures taken to prevent the malicious use of pathogens against humans, animals, and plants. And for others, the term biosecurity is a specific reference to pathogen security, attempts to keep dangerous pathogens out of terrorist hands. Pathogen security is a part of U.S. and international efforts in this arena and has been useful in opening dialogues with other governments and the scientific community regarding the importance of working together to counter bioterrorism. However, pathogen security is sometimes seen as the only strategy needed to combat bioterrorism. Asserting that materials, technologies, and expertise for bioterrorism are available worldwide, and that terrorist groups are increasingly able to obtain and disseminate infectious disease agents, pathogen security advocates contend that such systems and practices (often "guns, guards, and gates" - typically derived from several decades of work as part of nuclear nonproliferation strategies) are central to reducing bioterrorism's threat. Despite the ability to accomplish enhanced security for particular pathogen facilities and stimulate international engagement, there are also limits because virtually all pathogens exist in nature, technology is readily accessible, and scientific expertise is broadly distributed. As such, effective international policy strategies to combat bioterrorism must be substantially broader, comprehensive, and multi-sectoral - with pathogen security as one of many components which I shall now describe."

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Partnership for Global Security: http://www.partnershipforglobalsecurity.org
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Developing Options for Global Biosecurity: Assessing Progress and Evaluating New Mechanisms. Washington, DC. March 6-7, 2007
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