Bioterror/Biowar

Residents Voice Anger, Concerns Over BU Biolab

A sizable crowd turned out to oppose the plans to begin Level 4 operations at the South End facility. Andrew Jeromski, South End Patch, April 20, 2012 Upwards of 100 concerned citizens turned out Thursday night for a public hearing at Roxbury Community College to voice their disapproval and anger over a controversial Boston University laboratory in the South End. Known as the BU Biolab, the University wants to begin creating and studying the world’s deadliest pathogens at the facility - a Level 4 bio-containment lab - which is located on Albany Street, in the heart of a densely packed residential neighborhood. ... Residents

Residents oppose BU biolab for deadly diseases in South End

Amanda Cedrone, Boston Globe, April 20, 2012 About 100 people gathered Thursday night for a hearing in Roxbury to voice their disapproval of a controversial Boston University science lab. Area residents filled the Roxbury Community College auditorium, where representatives of the National Institutes of Health listened to concerns over the consequences of allowing the biolab to function. The National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories, a 192,000-square-foot high-security biolab in the South End near Boston Medical Center, has been tied up by legal challenges and regulatory reviews. ... Residents

Public hearing on BU biolab set for Thursday night

Patrick D. Rosso, Boston.com, April 19, 2012 Residents will have their chance to weigh in on Boston University’s disputed research laboratory and on the recently released draft safety report at a public meeting tonight. The 192,000-square-foot, lab was completed in 2008 and resides on the school's South End medical campus. Residents and environmentalists have raised concerns about the safety of a lab in the densely populated neighborhood. The university plans to use 16-percent of the lab for Level 4 work, which includes research and storage of some of the world’s deadliest germs. ... Public

Hurdles Remain For South End Infectious Disease Lab

Bob Oakes & Lynn Jolicoeur, WBUR, April 19, 2012 Boston - The names of deadly pathogens, such as Ebola, anthrax and plague, are enough to make some Boston residents shudder and say, “Not in my backyard.” And at a National Institutes of Health meeting at Roxbury Community College Thursday night, the public will get to weigh in on the safety of research on such dangerous organisms proposed to take place at a controversial Boston University lab in the South End. Local resident Klare Allen is with Safety Net, a neighborhood group that opposes the lab. She says after years of legal challenges and regulatory hurdles, backers of the BU biolab still haven’t answered certain questions ... Hurdles

Frederick activist: Fort Detrick is ‘stonewalling’

Katherine Heerbrandt, Frederick Post-Gazette, April 12, 2012 Frederick County’s advisory committee on biolab safety was formed to improve communication between Fort Detrick and residents on issues of public safety, but committee members worry whether their mission is being accomplished. Frederick city Alderman Karen L. Young (D), the city liaison to the Containment Laboratory Community Advisory Committee, told members at a meeting Tuesday that her queries about elevated levels of the chemical cadmium from Fort Detrick’s incinerator have gone unanswered by Detrick officials. ... Frederick

BU Biolab to begin Level-2 research, continue training

Gina Curreri, Boston University Daily Free Press, April 5, 2012 Boston University’s Biosafety laboratory is expected to start housing level-2 tuberculosis research this week, officials said. Ellen Berlin, the BU spokeswoman for the biolab, said the National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories’ Biosafety Level-2 laboratory would launch research by Thursday. Since its completed construction in 2008, the biolab has been used for training and office space, but not research. “We certainly started this process a long time ago,” Berlin said. “This is a really important milestone for the NEIDL.” ... BU

Supporters of NBAF say they are confident it will be funded

Scott Rothschild, Lawrence Journal World, April 5, 2012 Manhattan - Three years ago, Kansas won a big-league competition to have the top-level federal biosecurity laboratory. But now the $650 million National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility is mired in an appropriations limbo in Washington, DC. On Thursday, members of the Kansas Board of Regents looked at the empty 46-acre NBAF site adjacent to Kansas State University. “The challenge is trying to do something significant in a tight budget process,” said Regent Ed McKechnie, chairman of the board. ... Supporters

Synthetic biology research at the heart of controversy over new national lab in Richmond

Megan Molteni, Richmond Confidential, April 3, 2012 In January, when the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) announced it had chosen Richmond, California, as the site for its new research facility, the city was all trumpets and fanfare, with welcome banners flying and “I [heart] LBNL” pins fastened to lapels. And why not? The lab’s second campus, scheduled to open in 2016, is expected to generate hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars in tax revenue for Richmond in the coming years. For a city plagued by unemployment, poverty and crime, this is thrilling news. ... Synthetic

Safety issues plague designer gene, nano workers exposed at Berkeley conference

Richard Brenneman, Bay Area Indymedia, April 2, 2012 The first international conference on synthetic biotechnology and the environment, the public and biotech workers took place in Berkeley on March 29, 2012. This article is about the testimony of injured workers and injured worker advocates who attended the conference. Trust us, says Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s chief “bioengineer,” who told San Francisco Chronicle writer David Perlman that the genetically engineered microbes the UC Berkeley-run lab’s microrganisms “will now be made even safer by the thoroughness of engineers.” ... Safety

Bird Flu Studies Okay To Share Despite Bioterror Fears, Panel Says

Malcolm Ritter, Associated Press, March 30, 2012 New York - The US government's biosecurity advisers said Friday they support publishing research studies showing how scientists made new easy-to-spread forms of bird flu because the studies, now revised, don't reveal details bioterrorists could use. The decision could end a debate that began in December when the government took the unprecedented step of asking the scientists not to publicize all the details of their work. The research, by two scientific teams – one in Wisconsin, the other in the Netherlands – was funded by the United States. It was an effort to learn more about the potential threat from bird flu in Asia. ... Bird

US debuts life sciences dual-use research policy

Lisa Schnirring, Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy, March 29, 2012 Federal health officials today unveiled a new policy for overseeing life sciences dual-use research, such as two recent H5N1 transmission studies that have sparked bioterror concerns as well as cries of censorship. The launch of the new policy, first reported by ScienceInsider, comes while a US biosecurity advisory group is meeting to discuss the latest version of two H5N1 transmission papers, one by a group from Erasmus University in the Netherlands and one by a team from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. The move also follows a demand from a US congressman ... US

Bird flu: how two mutant strains led to an international controversy

The row over whether scientific journals can publish details of mutant strains of the H5N1 bird flu virus that can spread to other animals is about to come to a head in Washington. Ian Sample, Guardian, March 28, 2012 One Monday morning in September last year, Ron Fouchier, a virologist at the Erasmus medical centre in Rotterdam, stood at the Intercontinental hotel in Malta and told an audience of scientists how he created one of the world's most dangerous viruses. In a secure laboratory built to contain harmful pathogens, Fouchier took the H5N1 bird flu virus and mutated it, through some worryingly simple steps, into an airborne strain that spread swiftly ... Bird

Critics raise safety concerns with biotech labs at Berkeley forum

Robert Rogers, Contra Costa Times, March 28, 2012 No one disputes that the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory campus that's coming to Richmond will generate jobs and tax revenues. But concerns persist about the work that will be done there, especially in synthetic biology, and the risks posed to the surrounding community. That was among the topics at a news conference and public forum in Berkeley on Wednesday, touted as the first gathering in the area of local, national and international speakers to address concerns about synthetic biology, an emerging science that implants genetic material into cells to produce fuels and other industrial products. ... Critics

Bay Area may be at risk from synthetic biology research labs

Emily Smith Beitiks, Mercury News, March 27, 2012 Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory recently announced a proposal to build a facility in Richmond at which synthetic biology research will be a major focus. This news should give us pause to consider exactly what risks this little-known field poses for the environment and for human health. Last year, molecular biologist Becky McClain was awarded $1.37 million in a whistle-blower suit against pharmaceutical giant Pfizer after she was fired for raising safety concerns about the lab where she worked. McClain was infected with a genetically engineered virus being researched in her lab. She continues to experience intermittent paralysis ... Bay

Oppose NBAF

Stephen Andeerson, Alma, Topeka Capital-Journal, March 24, 2012 I testified at the congressionally mandated risk assessment update on the controversial, proposed National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility at Kansas State University. I was shocked at the carefully choreographed, full-blown Broadway production. The setting was an undersized room with an archaic sound system. The risk evaluation committee sat on stage with reserved tables, complete with nameplates, for the numerous department heads and distinguished professors immediately below. These people were summarily moved into their positions minutes before the hearing. ... Oppose

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