sensing and environmental sampling) as well as human intelligence, which has special importance because it can distinguish the benevolent use of biotechnology from the malevolent. Understanding intent in the area of biotechnology, which requires familiarity with S&T culture, processes, and procedures, is an expertise that scientists and technologists can offer the intelligence community. Meanwhile, there is a need to teach, reinforce, and strengthen ethical standards of the S&T community against the production and use of biological weapons; this will reduce the likelihood of scientists working in covert programs and increase the chance of them helping to abort malevolent efforts.

Although much has been written about the potential efficacy (or inefficacy) of ways to deter biological attacks, the S&T community has yet to fully explore means for strengthening deterrence. An obvious option is biological forensics (discussed later), because without reliable attribution, most deterrence strategies are likely to fail. Nucleic acid sequence databases for pathogen strain types and advances in chemical-trace analysis and the use of taggants will help the process of attribution, thus discouraging terrorism, but they will by no means guarantee that perpetrators can be identified.

The greatest potential benefit of a counterterrorism strategy might derive from preemptive efforts at earlier points in the bioterrorism-attack timeline—that is, the evolution of a bioweapons program from inception through weapon deployment, before any biological agent is released. The S&T communities have had relatively little input into detection and characterization of terrorist activities during this early stage, yet they could offer significant untapped resources. Opportunities for their involvement in the area of human intelligence should be explored (see Box 2.1).

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.


At the present time, efforts to identify biological agents in air, soil, and water samples have had only limited success. Ideally, one would hope to be able to collect air samples, for example, and identify a pathogen in those samples in near real time, allowing the population to be warned of the pathogen’s presence. However, existing technologies for rapid and reliable detection (collection and identification) of bioagents have not been widely evaluated or well validated in real-world settings. Much greater attention must therefore be given to the transition between basic laboratory research and field application.

Traditional laboratory approaches include microbial cultivation, immunological (e.g., antibody-based) assays, and nucleic acid detection schemes, espe-

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