Green Cross urges more action from BWC countries

Green Cross International, the environmental non-profit organization founded by former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, recently urged the member states of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention to take stronger action to prevent the misuse of dangerous pathogens.

Dr. Paul Walker, Green Cross International's director of environmental security and sustainability, said the 166 BWC member countries need to take do more globally and within their own borders to prevent the spread of dangerous pathogens and protect world security.

"There is a real risk that biological pathogens, causing such diseases as Ebola, avian flu, smallpox, plague, anthrax, and many other contagious and zoonotic diseases, can accidentally escape from laboratories around the world, or terrorists may potentially steal them and then use as biological weapons, causing great and indiscriminate harm as a consequence," Walker said. "To prevent this, scientists and their professional associations must adopt and adhere to strict codes of conduct, safety, and security to prevent the escape and misuse of biological pathogens."

Green Cross International recently conducted a side event called "Responsible Research for Global Biosecurity: Progress to Date" to accompany the states parties meeting held at the United Nations in Geneva.

"Given we do not have a global verification and inspection system for bio-labs in the pharmaceutical industry, it is becoming increasingly incumbent on scientists and the professional community to police themselves, with anything that is potentially weapons-related or 'dual-use,' so that biological pathogens and technologies, are dealt with and people are, in turn, protected," Walker said.