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Real Biosecurity for the Heartland

How did the Department of Homeland Security decide to put such infectious organisms on the US mainland?

Posted by nonbafks on August 11, 2008

Since Foot and Mouth Disease is the smallest and most infectious animal virus known today, it is considered the most challenging to contain. “DHS based its decision that work with FMD virus can be done safely on the mainland on a 2002 USDA study that addressed a different question: whether it is technically feasible to conduct exotic disease research and diagnostics, including foot-and-mouth disease and rinderpest, on the U.S. mainland with adequate biosafety and biosecurity to protect U.S. agriculture.7 This approach fails to recognize the distinction between what is technically feasible and what is possible, given the potential for human error. We found that the study was selective in what it considered. It did not assess the history of releases of FMD virus or other dangerous pathogens, either in the United States or elsewhere. It did not address in detail the issues of containment related to large animal work in BSL-3 Ag facilities.8 Also, the study was inaccurate in comparing other countries’ FMD work experience with the situation in the United States.  Consequently, the study does not clearly support the conclusion that FMD work can be done safely on the mainland. 

Page 4,GAO-08-821T


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