Senators confident in biodefense labfunding
“Kansas' two U.S. senators said Thursday the nation's struggling economy shouldn't hinder federal funding of the new $450 million national biothreat laboratory at Kansas State University […], which would study foot-and-mouth disease and other pathogens. […] Plans to build the lab come as the federal government's budget deficit soars amid a national recession. The NBAF lab is expected to generate about 1,500 construction jobs and a payroll of $25 million to $30 million for more than 500 employees, including 300 researchers, once it's completed by 2015. [Senator Pat] Roberts said he was confident the government would fund the laboratory.” (San Jose Examiner; 04Dec08; Carl Manning; Source: Associated Press)
Is ethics a showstopper at synthetic biology?
“Synthetic biology promises to enable cheap, lifesaving new drugs to treat the 350-500 million people who suffer from malaria, and to create innovative biofuels that can help solve the world's energy problems. But the science and its applications are raising questions: […] Are synthetic biology researchers unintentionally equipping terrorists with frightening new biological weapons? […] Arthur Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, will explore unresolved synthetic biology ethical questions at a January 8 program with Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies Chief Science Advisor Andrew Maynard. Dr. Caplan is at the forefront of ethicists, theologians, scientists, engineers, government leaders and civil society groups working to weigh synthetic biology's potential risks and benefits.” (Medical News Today; 04Dec08; Colin Finan; Source: Project on Emerging Technologies) http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/131732.php
In Cambridge [MA], a biotech balancing act
“City officials want Cambridge [MA] to remain the biotech capital of the world, but residents are wondering if the risk is worth it. Neighbors have specifically expressed concerns for labs that are categorized under biosafety level 3, labs known for performing work with infectious agents — anthrax and other airborne pathogens — that may cause potentially lethal diseases as a result of exposure. Level 4 biohazard labs — known as the most stringent — are currently not allowed in Cambridge under a city ordinance. City councilors are expected to officially ban Level 4 labs from Cambridge in February.
Cambridge resident Marilyn Wellons said her concern lies in people’s well-being and the fear of potential biological warfare. ‘It is only reasonable to look at these things with extreme caution,’ she said.” (Cambrige Chronicle; 03Dec08; Jillian Fennimore) http://www.wickedlocal.com/cambridge/news/x776469603/In-Cambridge-a-biotech-balancing-act
Sen. Salazar [D-CO] to Pentagon: Pueblo chemical weapons destruction delay is ‘unacceptable and must be corrected’
“United States Senator Ken Salazar [CO] sent a letter to Under Secretary of Defense John Young regarding the recent announcement by the Department of Defense that it expects completion of chemical weapons destruction at the Pueblo Chemical to be delayed 23 months because of a funding shortfall. […] ‘Just a few months ago the Department of Defense reported that they expected to be able to meet the 2017 deadline that we set for destroying the munitions stored at the Pueblo Chemical Depot,’ said Sen. Salazar. ‘[…] Now the Pentagon is saying that their funding request was too low and the project will be delayed. This is unacceptable and the Department of Defense needs to act swiftly to correct the problem. I fully expect the Pentagon to update its funding profile and its 2010 budget request to ensure that the weapons are safely destroyed by the 2017 deadline.’” (Senator Salazar Congressional Press Release; 03Dec08) http://salazar.senate.gov/news/releases/081203puebchem.htm
New [chemical warfare] decontamination ‘wipe’ developed
“Researchers led by an Indian-American scientist have developed a decontamination ‘wipe’ to clean up toxic chemical warfare agents as part of a study to develop a system to counter biological terror attacks. Seshadri Ramkumar along with other researchers at The Institute of Environmental and Human Health (TIEHH) at Texas Tech University comes out with the product at a time when a Congressionally mandated study has warned of a chemical-biological attack in the world in next five years. The evaluation of the Nonwoven dry wipe product ‘Fibertec,’ was performed as part of a study by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory using mustard gas and other toxic chemicals.” (The Hindu News Update Service; 04Dec08)
UAE is committed to chemical weapons convention
“The UAE will remain committed to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons (Chemical Weapons Convention) out of its belief that Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) are still posing a real threat to international peace and security. H.E. Ali Thani Al Suwaidi Ambassador of United Arab Emirates to Netherlands and Permanent Representative to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), told the 13th Conference of the States Parties about series of measures taken by the UAE for implementing the convention. He spelt out the legislative and administrative measures adopted to implement the Chemical Weapons Convention.” (UAE Daily News;
As threat of germ [and nuclear] warfare looms, commission devises plan
“‘World at Risk,’ a report issued Tuesday by the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism, recommends that the U.S. try to inhibit the global development of biological weapons and work with Pakistan to eliminate terrorist strongholds […]. […] The commissioners met Wednesday with Vice President-elect Joe Biden to advise the transition team on how to reduce the risk. […] Despite 132 pages of detailed reporting, the panel left some issues untouched—which has irked security experts. Ben Friedman, a defense specialist at the libertarian Cato Institute, criticized the report for failing to analyze the motives of states who want biological and nuclear weapons. Based on his research, Friedman thinks Iran and North Korea want WMD because the U.S. is hostile toward them and they want to feel secure. ‘What strikes me is that they come out with this screaming headline, but there’s not much analysis I see in the report that justifies it,’ he said.” (Medill Washington Reports; 03Dec08; Sara Sargent)
EU hosts global health security initiative talks
“Hosted by the European Commission, ministers from the United States, Britain, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Japan plus Mexico agreed to continue to make a concerted effort to share best practices in border management, improve crisis communications, and further cooperate on drugs and vaccines development which would include virus sample sharing for influenza pandemic preparedness. European Health Commissioner, Androulla Vassiliou, who chaired the meeting, [said] […] ‘In an ever more interdependent world, it is vital to collaborate closely with our partners to improve global rapid alerting and response systems on threats related to chemical, biological and radio-nuclear agents, pandemic influenza or wider health issues such as safety of the food chain and product safety […]. I have today invited all GHSI partners to participate in a preparedness exercise which the Commission plans to organize in 2010.’” (Business Wire; 05Dec08; Source: European Commission) http://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/google/?ndmViewId=news_view&newsId=20081205005592&newsLang=en
CNS ChemBio-WMD Terrorism News is prepared by the Chemical and Biological Weapons Nonproliferation Program of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in order to bring timely and focused information to researchers and policymakers interested in the fields of chemical, biological, and radiological weapons nonproliferation and WMD Terrorism.