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Countering Bioterrorism: The Role of Science and Technology
technology could help monitor international trafficking in biotechnology products.
Knowledge of the genome sequences of major pathogens allows new molecular technologies to be developed for the sensitive detection of pathogens. These technologies offer enormous possibilities for surveillance of infectious agents in our environment, the identification of pathogens, and rapid and accurate diagnoses. For these new technologies to be used effectively to provide early warnings, there is a need to link information from the doctor’s office or the hospital’s emergency room to city and state departments of health, thereby enabling detection of an outbreak and a rational and effective response. These capabilities will be important both for responding to attacks on agricultural systems (animals and crops) and for protecting humans, and they will require careful evaluation and standards. There is an urgent need for an integrated system to protect our food supply from the farm to the dinner table.
Recommendation 1: All agencies with responsibility for homeland security should work together to establish stronger and more meaningful working ties between the intelligence, S&T, and public health communities.
Recommendation 2: Federal agencies should work cooperatively and in collaboration with industry to develop and evaluate rapid, sensitive, and specific early-detection technologies.
Recommendation 3: Create a global network for detection and surveillance, making use of computerized methods for real-time reporting and analysis to rapidly detect new patterns of disease locally, nationally, and ultimately— internationally. The use of high-throughput methodologies that are being increasingly utilized in modern biological research should be an important component of this expanded and highly automated surveillance strategy.
Recommendation 4: Use knowledge of complex biological patterns and high-throughput laboratory automation to classify and diagnose infections in patients in primary care settings.
Recommendation 5: USDA should create an agency for control and prevention of plant disease. This agency should have the capabilities necessary to deal effectively with biothreats.
PREVENTION, RESPONSE, AND RECOVERY
To be able to respond to current and future biological threats, we will need to greatly expand research programs aimed at increasing our knowledge of the pathogenesis of and immune responses to biological infectious agents. The recent