Smallpox, Anthrax Biosafety Scares Are Troubling

Foreign Policy: It’s 10 o’Clock — Do You Know Where Your Bubonic Plague Is?
Laurie Garrett, journalist and senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations

“The revelation that smallpox vials have gone unnoticed inside the NIH for more than half a century is gobsmacking. … [I]t was shattering — or ironically amusing, depending on one’s point of view — to learn that anthrax research at the CDC as recently as June may have resulted in lab slips that exposed about 85 employees to the microbe. … Last year I proposed a series of measures governments ought to follow to improve biosafety, not only for the old standbys of smallpox and anthrax but for the new and man-made organisms. … While advocating in no uncertain terms that synthetic biology work ought to go forward, I called for less cavalier attitudes in both the scientific and government regulatory communities. … For more than 30 years, I have listened to the biosecurity debate in meetings large and small. Assurances have been made. … My worries are not appeased, my nerves are not calmed, and yours ought not be, either” (7/10).