Global bioprotection needed, experts warn

A panel of experts told congressional staff members last week that the only means of protecting the United States from a biological attack is to institute prevention and response measures globally.

“If you think we can protect America by insulating America from biological attack, it’s nonsense, it can’t be done,” Barry Kellman, president of the International Security and Biopolicy Institute at DePaul University College of Law, told the panel, Congressional Quarterly reported. “We shouldn’t even be thinking that way.”

Kellman also said that managing the risk of a biological attack remains a perpetual challenge today, noting that U.S. policies provide real security benefits domestically but need to be tweaked, expanded and exported.

“Internationalize prevention policies,” Kellman said. “We need to think about what we are doing domestically that is effective and how we can take this and deal with what is inherently a global threat.”

Incentives should be created by the United States for private-sector participation in pathogen databases that could aid in identifying pathogens when they appear and deducing when they're moving into the wrong hands.

“Simply put, we can have a perfect sense of that domestically,” Kellman said. “Internationally, not at all.”

Kellman also called for better situational awareness, with better techniques developed for sources of information to prevent attacks.

“We’ve got to make sure that if there are signs to be observed, we can observe them pre-attack,” Kellman said.