Canada calls for proposals to fight bioterror

Canada's federal government has called for proposals to combat biological, chemical, radiological and nuclear attacks, offering $18 million for ideas.

The call for proposals comes from the Center for Security Science, which is part of Defense Research and Development Canada, the Montreal Gazette reports. Proposals will also be accepted to combat criminals, accidents and natural disasters.

The $18 million is part of the center's CBRNE Research and Technology Initiative, which was created in the wake of the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. To date, the Montreal Gazette reports, approximately $400 million has been spent more than 200 on projects meant to strengthen weaknesses and close gaps in Canada's CBRNE defenses.

"There's no need to be alarmist, but if you look back in history, we had incidents like the Tokyo subway attack (with sarin gas) in 1995, we had the anthrax letters in the U. S, the bombings in Madrid, so these things happen and they're recurring," Ted Sykes, head of the center's CBRNE science and technology section, told the Montreal Gazette.

Despite the threat of an attack, most experts believe that the probability of a deliberate incident is low.

"But that said, the consequences and impact could be very high and so we need to keep looking at this," Sykes said. "It's not to say that we need to be alarmed. In my view, we need to take steps to mitigate the risk and ensure we are prepared as possible."