Ottawa’s new biosecurity rules for potentially deadly microbes

Biosecurity team hunting for pathogens . PHOTO: STR/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

Biosecurity team hunting for pathogens .
PHOTO: STR/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

Published: June 24, 2014

In a bid to prevent potentially deadly microbes like anthrax or SARS from getting loose in Canada, the federal government is proposing sweeping biosecurity regulations to govern pathogens found in about 8,500 laboratories across Canada.

Researchers working with particularly nasty micro-organisms and the toxins they produce will need licences and security clearance under the proposed regulations published in the Canada Gazette on June 21.

The government says the regulations are designed to improve safety and oversight and bring Canada in line with countries like the U.S. to “improve the deterrent for persons with malicious intent.”

Researchers support the move to shore up Canada’s biosecurity but say much will depend on how the regulations are applied. Continue reading

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Time to resume controversial flu experiments, scientists say

Staff cull chickens in a Hong Kong market on June 7, 2008, after the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus was found (AFP/File, Andrew Ross)

Staff cull chickens in a Hong Kong market on June 7, 2008, after the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus was found
(AFP/File, Andrew Ross)

Postmedia News, Jan 23, 2013

Leading researchers, including a senior scientist at Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory, say it’s time to resume controversial flu experiments that raised fears of  “doomsday” viruses escaping from the lab.

The scientists declared an end Wednesday to their voluntary year-long moratorium on experiments that makes highly pathogenic H5N1 avian flu virus transmissible in mammals.

In a letter published in two major research journals,the researchers say the dreaded virus continues to evolve in nature and H5N1 virus transmission studies are “essential for pandemic preparedness.” Continue reading