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April public hearing set for controversial BU biolab

Kay Lazar, Boston Globe, February 24, 2012 A long-awaited hearing for the public to comment on the latest safety report for Boston University’s controversial high-security research laboratory has been scheduled for April 19, federal officials announced today. That should give all sides plenty of time to review the 1,756-page document, which is so complex that officials today also released a 23-page Reader’s Guide to help make the massive report “more accessible” to the public, officials said. ... April

Public meeting for biolab set for April

Emily Overholt, Boston University Daily Free Press, February 24, 2012 The National Institutes of Health announced it will hold a public meeting on April 19 to discuss the National Emerging Infectious Diseases laboratories at Boston University’s Medical Center. The NIH released a Draft Supplementary Risk Assessment of more than 1,700 pages, according to the website. The NIH also released a 23-page Reader’s Guide to help the public digest the heavy scientific information contained in the full document. ... Public

Homeland Security chief says bio lab needed

Alicia A. Caldwell, Associated Press, February 15, 2012 Washington - Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says a national biological and agricultural defense laboratory in the US remains necessary despite the Obama administration’s decision not to include construction funding in its budget request. Napolitano says President Barack Obama’s budget request for the next fiscal year includes $8 million for research in Kansas, where the $1 billion National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility has been planned. Napolitano tells members of Congress that project is not dead. ... Homeland

Kansas Unhappy With Bio-Lab Budget Cuts - video

Michelle Pekarsky, WDAF, February 14, 2012 Topeka - Leaders in Kansas voiced deep concern Monday when President Obama released his budget because a high-visibility project expected to spur economic growth in Kansas may no longer receive federal funding. President Obama recommended no additional funding for construction of the National Bio-and Agro-defense Facility planned for Manhattan, near Kansas State University. Congress appropriated only $50 million of the $150 million the Obama administration requested for the lab in the current budget year. ... Kansas

New life seen for Plum Island facility

Mark Harrington, Newsday, February 13, 2012 In a move that could extend the life of the federal animal disease research facility on Plum Island, the Obama administration in its 2013 budget has proposed cutting funding for a new research facility in Kansas that was seen as its replacement. In doing so, the administration has requested that the proposed National Bio and Agro Defense Facility in Manhattan, Kansas, undergo a "comprehensive assessment," including a review of its near-$1 billion cost, safety issues and the viability of alternatives, including Plum Island. ... New

South End biolab risks are too high

Virginia Pratt, Jamaica Plain, Jamaica Plain Gazette, February 3, 2012 The proposed Bio Level 3 and 4 lab for Boston must be opposed. Despite the many safety precautions designed for the building, there would still be an unacceptable risk to the community if there was ever any outbreak of deadly pathogens. We cannot assume that the latest technology will eliminate all risks. I’m sure that no one in Japan foresaw the tsunami and earthquake that created the greatest nuclear disaster to date at the GE Mark I Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. With climate change, we are subject to extreme weather. Until last year, I can never recall tornados in Massachusetts. ... South

Bio-Lab by the Bay

ML Tina Stevens & Eric Hoffman, Berkeley Daily Planet, February 3, 2012 Recent news coverage highlights possible benefits the expanded Lawrence Berkeley National Lab could bring the city of Richmond (“Richmond chosen as site for Berkeley lab’s second campus,” CCT 1/26/12.) But Richmond residents have reason for concern. Much of the research to be conducted at the lab will use a new, insufficiently regulated, potentially dangerous emerging technology - synthetic biology. ... Bio-Lab

Opposition to the BU Biolab - video

Emily Rooney, Greater Boston, WGBH, January 17, 2012 Klare Allen of the Roxbury-based community organization Safety Net shares her concerns about BU's controversial Biolab with Emily. ... Opposition

The Risks of Dangerous Research

Should research that makes pathogens more deadly or infectious - or other dangerous research - be conducted in the first place? Tia Ghose, The Scientist, January 13, 2012 In the wake of news last month that researchers had created a version of the deadly bird flu that was easily transmissible by air, a heated debate has arisen in the scientific community about whether or not the research should be published. But some experts are taking the discussion a step further back, and wondering why the research was conducted at all. “Why should our tax dollars be used to create new pandemic pathogens?” said Richard Ebright, a chemical biologist at Rutgers University. ... The

Beware the scientists who tinker with flu bug viruses

Researcher goes too far. Geoff Olson, Vancouver Courier, January 12, 2012 One night last week my partner and I, battered by a persistent cold, decided to rent a movie online. We chose the plague thriller Contagion. (If you have to be sick, what’s more fun than watching characters even sicker than you?) Steven Soderbergh’s 2011 production sidesteps the zombie genre for a scientifically rigorous horror flick, which makes the plot that much scarier. It starts with a single cough and the words “Day 2.” It’s not until the film’s end that the pathogen’s beginnings are revealed on Day 1. ... Beware

Organization brings case to federal court against Livermore Lab

Jonathan Tam, Daily Californian, January 12, 2012 San Francisco – A local community organization presented its case against the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in federal court Wednesday morning, alleging that the lab handled potentially lethal chemicals without proper environmental review. The organization, Tri-Valley Communities Against a Radioactive Environment, challenged the US Department of Energy, which funds the lab, on its methods of dealing with potential terrorist or accidental situations if lethal pathogens such as anthrax were released from the lab facility. ... Organization

Biolab hosts press tour

Kate Vander Wiede, South End News, January 12, 2012 Successfully completing an iris scan and swiping through two keycard readers got Ron Corley through security and up the elevator of the Biolab. Another iris scan awaited before he was granted access to the administrative offices was granted. To get into the biosafety level 2 (BSL-2) lab, he would have to swipe his keycard once again. And these were just the security measures required to enter the lowest-level labs in the National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratory (NEIDL, or Biolab), owned and operated by Boston University (BU). ... Biolab

Livermore lab watchdog appeals for closure of lab's bioresearch facility

Suzanne Bohan, Contra Costa Times, January 12, 2012 A Lawrence Livermore Laboratory watchdog group argued in a San Francisco federal court Wednesday for a halt to biological weapons research until its danger to residents is more thoroughly examined. Inside a high-security building at the national lab, researchers are working with microbes such as anthrax, plague, Q fever and other deadly pathogens to better understand how they infect people and to develop technologies for detecting them. "And this will all be done a half a mile away from densely populated areas in Livermore," said Scott Yundt, a lawyer with Tri-Valley CAREs. ... Livermore

A Walk Through the Vault of Death

A peek inside the BU biolab. Michael Naughton, Metro, January 11, 2012 The Boston University biolab has been causing nerves to shake ever since plans to construct the South End facility were announced.

 Now, as some research is set to begin at the $200 million lab, officials are attempting to soothe the nerves by offering a glimpse inside the facility.

 “The folks that have been through it ... have seen the safety measures in place and they are second to none,” said Mayor Thomas Menino after taking a tour of the facility with the media and some members of the public yesterday. “We have to educate folks in the neighborhoods that this is good for the city.” ... A

Keeping superbugs away from terrorists

Laurie Garrett, Capital Times, January 11, 2012 When flu scientist Ron Fouchier, of Erasmus University in Rotterdam, announced in September that he had made a highly contagious, supervirulent form of the bird-flu virus, a long chain of political events unfolded, mostly out of the public eye. Fouchier told European virologists at a meeting in Malta that he had created a form of the H5N1 avian flu - which is extremely dangerous to both birds and mammals, but only contagious via birds - that was both 60 percent fatal to infected animals and readily transmitted through the air between ferrets ... Keeping

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