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is no process whatsoever to anticipate the policies that might suitably
cope with tomorrow™s challenges “ a most striking de¬ciency in view of
bioscience™s accelerating rate of change. The crisis here is not in science “
the crisis here is in law. There is a systemic failure to clarify and enforce
even rudimentary legal obligations that could make it harder to commit


It should be hard for a bio-offender to get the pathogens and tech-
nology that he needs to commit bioviolence. If he can obtain re¬ned

pathogens and readily weaponize them using advanced equipment and
facilities, he will more likely succeed than if his preparations are unremit-
tingly obstructed. Global implementation of measures that deny the more
straightforward ways to commit bioviolence will compel a bio-offender
to pursue more precarious and expensive routes that raise the odds of
botching his plans. Therefore, he should be barred from obtaining re¬ned
laboratory specimens of dangerous pathogens. If he wants to re¬ne natu-
ral pathogens himself, then his acquisition of re¬ning equipment should
leave an obviously detectable trail. If he tries to enter sophisticated bio-
laboratories, he should confront multiple security checks. In general, the
higher the hurdles that the bio-offender has to overcome and the greater
the risk of alerting law enforcers, the more likely he will take his evil inten-
tions in other directions.

Denial + Interdiction
Raising barriers to bioviolence makes sense. Indeed, national and interna-
tional laws apply similar barriers in comparable contexts to deny access
to dangerous items. Neither nuclear materials nor extremely toxic chem-
icals can be casually obtained by people who lack permission or skills
to have them. In the biological sciences, minimally obtrusive methods
to keep pathogens and equipment secure could readily be implemented.
Only scientists who need such key items for legitimate purposes should
have access to them.
Many technologically advanced nations have effectively implemented
mandatory standards for restricting access. All nations should follow suit,
but most have not; the proliferation of bioscience is far outpacing the
spread of appropriate security standards. In many countries, denial mea-
sures for preventing bioviolence are supposed to be observed on a “volun-
tary” basis. Voluntary compliance is ¬ne for the many scientists who are
attentive to bioviolence risks, but their observance is not very useful for
stopping real bio-offenders who want to manipulate the system for hostile
If denial measures are not in place everywhere, then bio-offenders will
exploit the gaps. Moreover, these measures must not only be legislated;
of¬cials must have authority and capability to actually enforce them. The
challenge, therefore, is not to design novel controls that can be experimen-
tally applied to bioscience to see if they might be effective. It is to ensure
that well-understood security controls are implemented and enforced
wherever bioscience is dynamically emerging.

Binding obligations to comply with denial measures have an addi-
tional bene¬t: implementing them generates a lot of information. To assess
compliance with denial measures, legitimate bioscientists and their insti-
tutions will have to report data about where laboratories are and what
pathogens are stored or handled in them. These reports will produce
data ¬‚ows that can generate a global census of biofacilities, location of
pathogens, and the traf¬c in pathogens and equipment. Such data is essen-
tial for effective interdiction.
To stop bioviolence, law enforcers have to know where and at whom
to look. One purpose of denial measures is to gather enough informa-
tion about legitimate bioscience to have a clear picture about who is
engaged in sensitive activities and where those activities are carried out.
With better data about legitimate bioscience, law enforcers can distinguish
bio-offenders from scientists, enabling them to optimally focus scarce
resources. Absent that information, movements of pathogens and access
to laboratories will be just a blur.
By knowing where legitimate science is practiced and what is the traf¬c
in critical items, law enforcers can look for anomalies “ unusual situations
that might be a clue of covert bioviolence preparations. Correctly struc-
tured denial measures should, therefore, be linked to observable signals
so that an offender trying to overcome those barriers will leave clues. It
is critical that law enforcers be authorized, trained, and equipped to look
for such clues so that they will stop a bio-offender before he executes an
attack. Data reporting has a double bene¬t here: legitimate bioscience can
help law enforcers focus scarce resources on interdicting outlaws, and law
enforcers will leave those bioscientists alone.
Simply expressed, denial measures should make it very dif¬cult to get
necessary items to commit bioviolence so that a bio-offender should have
to leap over high hurdles to prepare a bioviolence attack. Interdiction mea-
sures should enable law enforcers to observe leapers and quickly move
against them. Facing dif¬cult obstacles and high risks of getting caught,
potential bio-offenders will likely view bioviolence as excessively risky.
Worldwide implementation of these measures would, therefore, go a long
way to dissuading pursuit of bioviolence.

Bioscience™s Anxieties
Some bioscientists become anxious when discussions of bioviolence evoke
proposals for regulating their activities. They are understandably con-
cerned that legal monitoring and enforcement of bioviolence prevention

policies might raise the specter of snaring legitimate, even compelling
activities in a dragnet whereby law enforcers will interfere with their work
or insinuate that their work is linked with bioviolence. Controls on distri-
bution of pathogens means that they might not be able to get what they
need for experiments or that a scientist will be prosecuted for having a
bottle in back of the refrigerator that might be found to hold a lethal but
unregistered pathogen. Graver worries are that persons of certain ethnicity
or nationality will be altogether barred from potentially sensitive scienti¬c
In this view, regulating laboratories and the people working in them
means that police will be constantly supervising scienti¬c activity, ready to
pounce on the merest transgression, sti¬‚ing the relaxed atmosphere that
is conducive to good science. If working with pathogens “ re¬ning them
into pure strains, manipulating them into uniform shape and density, and
studying their processes of lethality “ is suspicious, then thousands of
bioscientists could face legal inquiry or worse. If having lethal pathogens
and equipment for preparing bioviolence agents is enough to initiate an
inquiry, then all sorts of bioscientists, including high school science teach-
ers, might have to explain themselves.
Overbroad regulation would not serve any bene¬cial purpose and
could sti¬‚e life-saving and lucrative progress. Indeed, if regulations are
imposed without criteria, it is not far-fetched to envision police barg-
ing into laboratories and interrogating scientists. We must acknowledge
that bioscientists have a history of substantial abuse when of¬cials enter
their realm or circumscribe their research. The miracle discovery of small-
pox vaccine was widely denunciated as immoral amid calls to stop inoc-
ulations. Today, the U.S. government resists stem-cell research while
various European governments resist exposure to genetically modi¬ed
It is important to stress that bioscience has made (and continues to
make) outstanding contributions to humanity. Bioscientists strongly value
their independence. Many believe that this progress is directly related
to minimal government intrusion and constraint by law enforcers who
have little understanding of what they do. Indeed, a degree of anarchy has
always characterized the pursuit of bioscience that, until recently, could be
conducted with minimal resources. Bioscientists trace their art to Mendel
whose breakthrough discoveries took place in his garden. Worth empha-
sizing is that bioscience has immediate and direct entrepreneurial impli-
cations for the pharmaceutical sector “ a sector that, to put it mildly, has
issues with legal supervision.

Moreover, the bioscience/pharmaceutical sectors are crucial allies in
preventing bioviolence. They share a common interest with law enforcers
in reducing vulnerabilities. These sectors must undertake research on
pathogenicity and virology, produce vaccines and antidotes and instruct
¬rst responders on their use, and join with other disciplines to create sen-
sors and other instruments to assist law enforcement. In the event of a
bioviolence attack, law enforcers and scientists will have to cooperate with
public health personnel to limit the spread and severity of consequences.
It would be counterproductive to view bioscience as dangerous or biosci-
entists as suspects for potential bioviolence. More broadly, it is ridiculous
to think that there is widespread interest among bioscientists to engage in
Part of the dif¬culty here is that bioscientists and law enforcers do not
communicate with each other especially well. Each community regularly
sponsors workshops on bioviolence, but only recently have representatives
of one community participated in the other community™s discussions. Even
their terminology is different. Terms like “surveillance” have very differ-
ent meanings in each context. Broadly viewed, the fact that bioscientists
and law enforcers are mutually leery and averse to seeing the other™s per-
spective is a dangerous impediment to preventing bioviolence. It is piv-
otal to forge supportive linkages between scientists and law enforcers that
enhance cooperation yet are respectful of each other™s domain.
Looking forward, bioscience will proliferate throughout the world and
increasingly offer opportunities for bio-offenders to hostilely misapply
that science. Necessarily therefore, all the arguments in favor of free scien-
ti¬c inquiry are not limitless. No freedom is absolute. Society has a right “
indeed an obligation “ to protect its members from harm or crime. It is
imperative to pursue well-de¬ned criteria that apply objectively to real
security concerns without regard to dogma or political preference and that
are minimally necessary to further a legitimate social purpose. The selec-
tion of criteria should be guided by a strict calculation of what measures
can actually be bene¬cial. There is no reason to waste resources investi-
gating innocent persons and activities. But transfers of lethal agents and
sophisticated equipment to persons lacking a legitimate need for them
could have horrifying consequences. Thus, scientists should embrace rea-
sonable security standards that can diminish the risk of bio-offenders
obtaining and weaponizing pathogens as the price of living in a dangerous
Moreover, bioscientists must recognize that an actual bioattack will
inevitably provoke calls for draconian oversight measures. That was the

immediate reaction to the anthrax attacks of late 2001. If there is any evi-
dence of bioscience involvement in a future attack, even inadvertently,
the clamor for controls is likely to be deafening. President of the National
Academies of Science Bruce Albert said, “We™d all be haunted if some pub-
lication in my [NAS] journal were used to make a biological weapon.”2 If
bioscientists are truly concerned that law enforcers will cite bioviolence to
justify interfering with their work and falsely characterize their possession
of pathogens and critical equipment, it would be tactically wise to help
design reasonable prevention mechanisms before an attack occurs rather
than stubbornly resist any oversight whatsoever until a nightmare scenario
unfolds. More broadly, it would be cavalier to ignore the unfortunate but
nontrivial potential that a few bioscientists could, if wrongfully motivated,
wreak disaster out of all proportion to their numbers or resources.

Registration and Census
Complication policies must be directed at misuses of biology and place
only minimal burdens on legitimate science. Broadly stated, complica-
tion policies should focus on: 1) census functions “ knowing where sensi-
tive items are and how they are moving; and 2) thwarting wrongful diver-
sion, access, or smuggling of such items. Complication policies should not
focus on: 1) monitoring individual bioscientists™ activities; or 2) impeding
participation in the biosciences by persons based on their nationality or
Companies and academic institutions working with dangerous
pathogens should be registered, and that registration should be declared
to international and national authorities. Registration serves two pur-
poses. First, lawful entities must comply with strict security safeguards
for impeding misuse or diversion. Second, registration authoritatively dis-
tinguishes lawful possessors of select pathogens from outlaw possessors.
Properly registered entities are presumably legitimate, and their posses-
sion of pathogens is therefore not inherently suspicious. By negative impli-
cation, anyone having listed pathogens without proper registration has
violated the law and may be punished; no further evidence of malevolent
intent is needed.
The message to scientists who seek to work with such microbes is:
Identify yourself, comply with explicit standards for safety and security,
and agree to transfer these microbes only to scientists who are similarly
identi¬ed and complying with such standards. If so, law enforcers will not
have reason to bother you. Bio-offenders are unlikely to come forward and

The scientists who overtly declare their intentions to conduct research
should face little more than routine paperwork obligations. For all the
bioscienti¬c entities that are not working with dangerous pathogens or
uniquely critical equipment, the obligations should be trivial. Only the few
entities that handle items of concern should face more onerous require-
ments. Even for these few entities, the consequences of missing a regula-
tory detail should be tri¬‚ing unless there is hard evidence that the oversight
was deliberate. By their act of self-identi¬cation, they enable attention
to be devoted to persons or institutions who deliberately do not identify
themselves. By contrast, the consequences of someone™s willful refusal to
participate in the regulatory system should be very stiff. It is this type of
secret bioscience that is troubling. Most importantly, the entire system
must be consistently mandated and enforced globally.


In some countries with advanced bioscience sectors, laws effectively
control access to particularly lethal pathogens, unique equipment, and
facilities.3 Many of the controls proposed here are standard operating pro-
cedures for bioscience in these nations.

Denying Access to Pathogens
Access to specimens of readily weaponizeable pathogens should be con-
trolled. If bioviolence offenders cannot get these specimens, they would
have to gather natural pathogens that would need to be re¬ned, raising
both technical challenges and risks of detection.
The ¬rst question is which pathogens should be controlled? Small-
pox and anthrax would likely be on everyone™s list. After that, scientists
disagree. No list will be perfectly satisfactory or without dispute. Even if
a list could be synthesized here, it would be quickly out of date as new
pathogens are discovered or someday constructed. Properly framed, the
question is who should determine the list of controlled pathogens. These
decisions must be perceived as “legitimate.” There should be ¬rm criteria
for decisions, an explicit decision-making process that welcomes expert
input, and opportunities to review decisions.
In the United States, the CDC makes authoritative judgments. Its
“select agent list” now has forty-one pathogens (the 1918 Spanish Flu
genome was recently added) divided into Class A (high threat) and Class
B (medium threat) biological agents.4 No doubt, some scientists dis-
agree with some of the CDC™s listing decisions, but few scientists dispute


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