Introduction of the "Select Agent Program and Biosafety Improvement Act of 2008"
INTRODUCTION OF THE "SELECT AGENT PROGRAM AND BIOSAFETY IMPROVEMENT
ACT OF 2008"
HON. JANE HARMAN
in the house of representatives
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Ms. HARMAN. Madam Speaker, today my colleague Mike Rogers of Michigan
and I are introducing the House companion to a bill introduced by
Senators Burr and Kennedy--the Select Agent Program and Biosafety
The bill will provide an important link in the chain of defenses
needed to fight the potential threat of bioterrorism.
The bill reauthorizes and updates the Select Agent Program, which
limits access to and controls the transfer of dangerous biological
agents and toxins.
It requires the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a
comprehensive evaluation of the program, and recommend ways in which it
can be restructured to enhance biosecurity and international scientific
It requires that the program consider newly discovered agents--such
as genetically modified organisms, synthetic compounds, and other
agents identified in Homeland Security risk assessments--to ensure that
the list of agents is current and comprehensive.
It encourages the sharing of information with state emergency
planning officials, which is vital to ensuring that our first
responders have the tools they need to prevent or respond to an attack.
And it ensures minimum biosecurity and biosafety standards for the
training of workers in the laboratories that deal with the most
These measures are of vital importance. Over the past several decades
we have seen revolutions in technology, economics, and politics that
are fundamentally changing the world we live in.
The upside of these developments is obvious. The world is more
prosperous, healthy, and interconnected than it has ever been before.
But with these revolutions also come challenges.
The same advances in biotechnology that help save lives, can also be
used to develop dangerous biological agents and toxins that can take
The new global information infrastructure that is now the backbone of
our economy can be used to spread knowledge of how to create and
disperse biological weapons.
It is more important than ever that the U.S. government be able to
track and control the dangerous materials that can be used to construct
these weapons. This bill will help that effort.
In closing, I'd like to say a special word about Senator Kennedy. He
has been a legislative hero of mine since my days working as a staffer
on the Senate Judiciary Committee. He and Vicki are good friends, and
are in my prayers.
Rep. Rogers has amassed an impressive amount of knowledge on this
subject, and will play a major role in securing its passage.
This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).