The Killers in the Lab

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In order to combat the threat of biological weapons, more than $20 billion has been spent on bio-defense research since 2001.This has led to a an increase of research facilities as well as the number of people who have access to the materials. However, the 2001 anthrax mailings were conducted by a top Army bio-defense scientist, Dr Bruce Ivins and the anthrax powder originated from the Army bio-defense research center at Fort Detrick, MD. This suggest that the bio-defense program risks creating the very threat it is meant to fight. Elisa D. Harris recommends that a full public examination of all the governments evidence in the 2001 anthrax mailings should occur in order to determine what went wrong. Then the overall bio-defense research strategy must be re-examined, along with the setting of clear priorities, strengthening safety, and ensuring security and oversight of laboratories working with dangerous agents. Harris suggests that the probability of an attack on the American public is low, but any such attack would be devastating. Therefore, the US cannot meet the threat safely or effectively with a strategy that puts bio-weapons agents in more and more people’s hands.


New York Times Op-Ed