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Addressing the Gap in International Norms for Biosafety

Gigi Kwik Gronvall, Michelle Rozo
Date posted:
December 10, 2015
Publication type:

Trends Microbiol 2015;23(12):743-744

Elsevier Ltd.
Available on publisher website
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There is currently a lack of national-level norms for biosafety. Considering that a laboratory accident involving a contagious pathogen could have long-term consequences that extend beyond an individual incident into the practice of science more broadly, it is in the interests of scientists everywhere that international norms are developed.
For most research scientists, biosafety is a local concern. There are procedures to work safely in the laboratory that need to be followed, as well as taught to incoming students and post-docs. There are institutional biosafety committees, which review registrations for recombinant DNA work as well as infectious agents, animal protocols, and clinical trials. Many research institutions also have biosafety officers who provide advice on biological risks, and ensure compliance with the relevant regulations and guidelines. But, while most scientists deal with biosafety locally within their institution, how biosafety is practiced, regulated, and funded on an international level should be a concern of every scientist. As pathogens do not confine themselves to international borders, a laboratory accident involving a contagious pathogen could potentially have far-reaching effects around the world – not only as a direct impact of the breach of containment but on the overall practice of science.



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