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Report faults U.S. bioterror efforts

WASHINGTON, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- The Bush administration has done a poor job preparing for bioterrorism threats and guarding a rapidly growing network of research labs, a report says.

The bipartisan, six-month study from the congressionally-created Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction and Terrorism faulted the administration for tripling the number of lab sites handling high-level germs since 2001 and failing to adequately protect them, The Washington Post reported Sunday.

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The security lapse increased the chances a terrorist could obtain deadly, genetically modified pathogens.

"The rapid growth in the number of such labs in recent years has created new safety and security risks which must be managed," the draft report states.

While the report cites progress in many areas of biodefense since the deadly anthrax attacks of 2001, it says on the whole there are far more opportunities for bioterrorism now thanks to lax security within the biodefense research industry that sprang up after 2001, the Post reported.

No single government agency has authority to oversee security at these U.S. labs, most of which are run by private companies or universities, the newspaper said.

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