White House science advisers issued a series of recommendations Thursday to improve safety at biolabs, USA Today reported. The recommendations came in response to high-profile incidents at labs working with dangerous bioterror pathogens, including the mishandling of anthrax, smallpox virus and a deadly strain of bird flu at federal labs in 2014. The White House also set deadlines to ensure that the recommendations are implemented.
The memo and its attachments, which are 187 pages long, were issued by Lisa Monaco, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, and John Holdren, assistant to the president for science and technology.
"The recommendations highlight several key principles for the national biosafety and biosecurity system, including: transparency, swift incident reporting and accountability to the public, and material stewardship that includes strong inventory management and control measures," Monaco and Holdren said in a blog posting Thursday afternoon, USA Today reported.
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) October 29, 2015
The safety reforms call for increased training to create and strengthen cultures of biosafety and security; requiring that a qualified entity validate laboratory protocols used to kill infectious materials and providing information about incidents to the public "to the maximum extent feasible,” USA Today reported. The recommendations issued Thursday focus on labs registered to work on dangerous "select agent" pathogens that the government considers to pose possible bioterrorism threats.