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Non-U.S. Government Sources
Features news, articles, think-pieces and documents of relevance to the CWC or the BWC produced by non-government sources. Such sources include foreign government statements, news media, academic institutions, non-profit organizations and other institutions.
Military Researchers Work with Government Agencies to Improve Biosurveillance
BioPrepWatch, 04 April 2014; www.bioprepwatch.com
Military researchers recently began collaborating U.S. government agencies to improve the nation's biosurveillance capabilities and provide early warnings to warfighters and first responders. Research teams with the Defense Threat Reduction Agency [DTRA], Chemical and Biological [CB] Joint Science and Technology Office [JSTO] formed the Biosurveillance Ecosystem [BSVE] to address areas of need and support real-time biosurveillance.
Project engineers established a website to demonstrate utility and solicit feedback from the user community. One goal of the project is to allow users to customize their BSVE Analysis Workbench regardless of location, skill level and resources.
Sustainability is also important for the project. The project allows for external, new sources of analytics and data to be integrated into the BSVE to create customized output. The program has been user-derived and user-tested by the Department of Defense and local and state public health departments to ensure needs are met and program capabilities are functional.
DTRA CB officials said BSVE will be an easy, defined process for agencies to insert new data sources and display them as part of search results. They expect the program to become well-used in the military scientific community.
The DTRA CB/JSTO is working with the Joint Program Executive Office, the Department of Homeland Security, the Director of National Intelligence and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among others, to ensure operability and smooth transition of science and technology.
Report: U.K. Marines May Have Been Exposed to Albania Mustard Gas
Global Security Newswire, 03 April 2014; www.nti.org/gsn
More than 20 British marines reportedly have developed mysterious skin blisters following a 2013 drill near a former chemical-arms site in Albania. Several dozen of the Royal Marines involved in a September 2013 training exercise on Sazan Island had to seek medical help afterwards.
Some troops suspect the skin blisters they developed are a sign of mustard-agent contamination, the Western Morning News reported on Wednesday. The island is reported to house former Soviet chemical and biological weapon-production sites. "No one knows what caused the skin problems," an anonymous military source told the newspaper. "No one has worked it out yet. Men were rolling around in grass and in buildings. We thought it may be the effects of old mustard gas."
The UK defense ministry said the symptoms could have resulted from coming into contact with the giant hogweed plant, which produces a poisonous sap that can cause bad skin irritation. However, a different marine source said that troops had gloves on their hands during the exercise and "there was no skin showing."
A ministry official said no continuous symptoms had been reported by any marines and that "no further Royal Marine exercise activity on Sazan Island is currently planned." Albania declared its destruction of a small chemical arsenal in 2007.
Bioterrorism Workshop Presenters Call for Greater Safety Measures
Marjorie Clark, BioPrepWatch, 01 April 2014; www.bioprepwatch.com
The Quaid-i-Azam University Department of Biotechnology and the School of Politics and International Relations [in Islamabad, Pakistan] held a workshop on March 26 that explored concerns in biotechnology.
The workshop, titled "Raising awareness on dual use concerns in biotechnology," focused on the misuse of knowledge and emerging techniques, including the creation of unique and novel pathogens that can be used as weapons or harm life, material or the environment, according to the Express Tribune.
"In a dynamic global environment and the overwhelming asymmetric threats from the non-state actors, it is of utmost importance to understand the bio-security issues and initiate a coordinated global effort to cope with bio-security and bio-safety breaches and develop an effective response mechanism," Japanese Ambassador Hiroshi Inomata said, the Express Tribune reports. Inomata said that as genetic engineering and synthetic biology advance, concerns about misuse will increase, according to the Express Tribune.
Department of Biotechnology Chairman Zabta Khan Shanwari said development of genetic engineering and bioscience technology have increased the risk of bioterrorism, and if virus and pathogens used for research are released from laboratories, they would cause harm.
"If such new types of toxic mutant virus/pathogen come to our environment they could badly affect our agriculture and other living organisms including human being," Shanwari said, according to the Express Tribune. "The workshop will help us develop new policies and practices that will address a variety of ethical concerns arise from biomedical research."
QAU Vice-Chancellor Etzaz Ahmed said the wave of research and discoveries has created great social and economic benefits, and the scientific community must respond to concerns as part of its relationship with society, the Express Tribune reports. The workshop was part of the European Union CBRN Centers of Excellence Risk Mitigation Initiative and Inter-Academy Panel through Pakistan Academy of Sciences.
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