At least in Britain anyway, I'm sure all of our US biolabs are completely up to code and well-guarded... :/
The Guardian is living up to it's name with this report:
"Urgent measures are needed to prevent dangerous organisms and genetic technology from reaching terrorists and rogue countries, security experts said yesterday.
Lax controls in laboratories, poor international agreements on harmful pathogens and ignorance among scientists of the risks their research may pose are increasing the danger of terrorists devising biological weapons, according to specialists at a meeting on genetics and terrorism at Edinburgh University. The conference, held by the Economic and Social Research Council's genomics policy and research forum, brought together experts on bioterrorism to discuss ways to reduce the risk of terrorists exploiting advances in biological sciences.
They urged an overhaul in the way scientists work and called for vigilance on the funding and publication of research that might help terrorists manipulate organisms or devise other advanced biological weapons. Their recommendations suggest scientists take mandatory educational courses on the potential threats of research and set up bioterror "hotlines" for lab staff to use if they create a dangerous organism by accident.
The most immediate risks are posed by organisms including anthrax, ebola and salmonella, but rapid advances in genetics have given scientists the power to create lethal viruses from scratch and DNA sequences capable of disrupting the nervous system, the experts said. The techniques will become available to all but the poorest of scientific laboratories, they warned."
How is this different from the earlier report I posted? Well, for one, it's not highly reactionary and its not a study put out by one guy who thinks he's brilliant for finding out the fact that terrorists can get a hold of sequenced DNA and put it together to make pathogens.
Second, their proposed solution to this problem was not shutting down lines of communication but rather educating scientists on what would be warning signs and red flags of organizations they should not be shipping DNA to. This is smart, and I think it could be very effective.
This whole organism-from-DNA-bits makes me wonder how far off a chimera virus is in the realm of scientific possibility... I mean, all you would need to do is identify a few killer genes, splice them together with a protein shell and replication sequences and you have your own patented designer bioweapon.
Or are we already at that level of sophistication in genetic engineering?