Growing International Biological Threat
The anthrax attacks of 2001 and the recent outbreaks of SARS and highly pathogenic avian influenza have demonstrated that infectious disease—whether natural or manmade—poses a significant and growing threat to international peace, security and stability. Perhaps the most important trend influencing the biological threat is the expansion of public and private bioscience worldwide. Advancing biotechnology, while improving the health and well being of millions, also increases the risk that bioscience could be intentionally misused.
Today, the world is faced with the daunting challenge of protecting the legitimate international bioscience sector against accidental release of dangerous biological agents, and from exploitation by those who wish to commit bioterrorism.
The international community must also strengthen
its ability to detect and respond to highly infectious disease outbreaks that
threaten human and agricultural health.
Biosecurity Engagement Program
The Biosecurity Engagement Program (BEP) is committed to developing cooperative international programs that promote the safe, secure and responsible use of biological materials that are at risk of accidental release or intentional misuse.
Fundamental BEP objectives include:
- Assisting partner countries in maintaining a balance between developing sustainable public and agricultural health infrastructure, and ensuring safe and secure pathogen collections.
- Training in biosafety and pathogen security to promote sound laboratory management practices.
- Engaging bioscience laboratories in collaborative pathogen security and biosafety projects, including assistance in risk assessment, safety and security consultations, design and implementation.
- Training in infectious disease surveillance and molecular diagnostics, and laboratory capacity building activities.
- Integrating advances in international biosafety and pathogen security into efforts to enhance international infectious disease surveillance, diagnostics, response and control.
To ensure the effectiveness of BEP’s biological threat reduction mission, BEP draws upon the diverse expertise of many different U.S. Government agencies, and seeks collaboration with critical international health entities, such as the World Health Organization (WHO), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).