Science Magazine Biodefense News – Army Bans Pathogen Work

Today Science Magazine is reporting that the Army has banned all pathogen research at one of its labs at the Armed Forced Institute of Pathology (AFIP) in Washington, DC. This decision was made December 2, 2008 as a result of an earlier failed Biological Surety Inspection, and not made public.

Science reports that “officials found that lab managers ignored information about certain employees that could have disqualified them from having access to dangerous pathogens. The redacted version of the IG’s [Inspector General's] report released to Science does not divulge the nature of this so-called potentially disqualifying information, but it could be anything from alcoholism to mental instability.”

On October 28, 2008 AR 50-1 came into effect, stipulating a strict Biological Personnel Reliability Program for DOD employees as part of their Biological Surety Program. It includes and intense background investigation and interviews  of employees as well as regulations regarding substance abuse and mental health.

In early February the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) also suspended its research on biological select agents and toxins when it was realized that there were problems with the system of accounting for high risk microbes and biological materials in the laboratories at Fort Detrick, MD.

The post Science Magazine Biodefense News – Army Bans Pathogen Work appears on the FAS Strategic Security Blog.

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One Response to “Science Magazine Biodefense News – Army Bans Pathogen Work”

  1. Dawn Pugh August 7, 2009 at 5:47 AM #

    Hi,
    I suppose there are two sides to this debate;

    1. The privacy of employees and their confidential medical history.

    2. Public damage limitation and the security to the rest of us.

    A controversial issue and one that we only hear about after the event.

    Thank you
    Regards
    Dawn Pugh

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