White House orders pathogen policy changes

July 2, 2010 at 6:32 PM
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WASHINGTON, July 2 (UPI) -- The White House says President Obama has ordered fundamental changes in the way hazardous pathogens and toxins in the United States are secured against misuse.

Research on Biological Select Agents and Toxins is critical for the development of tools to detect, diagnose, recognize and respond to outbreaks of infectious disease of both natural and deliberate origin, the White House said Friday.

The expansion in the last 10 years of the infrastructure and resources dedicated to BSAT work, coupled with the discovery that the perpetrator of the 2001 anthrax attacks may have been a U.S. government employee, underlines the need to ensure BSAT are properly secured against possible misuse or attempts to harm people, animals, plants, or the environment, administration officials said.

Under Obama's executive order, federal activities for securing BSAT will be consolidated under revised regulations jointly overseen by the departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture with support from the Department of Justice and the FBI.

The order, issued after an administration-led review of federal policies and procedures associated with the security of BSAT, calls for "significant improvements in the structure, coordination, and oversight of these activities across the Federal government."

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