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Bioweapon Infects Researcher at Texas A&M, Goes Unreported while Def. Sec. Gates was President there. Such Incidents are Common


A student researcher was infected with the bioweapons agent brucella more than a year ago during a Texas A&M experiment, but the university illegally failed to report the incident. Sunshine Project, the organization that revealed the cover-up, says that such cases are not uncommon in America.

The researcher was cleaning a chamber that had just been used to expose mice to the bioagent when the bacteria entered her body, probably through her eyes. Supervising was the professor who invented the chamber, which he has characterized as "foolproof" but has caused at least two similar contaminations. The researcher was sick at home for several weeks before being diagnosed with the disease.

E-mails obtained by Sunshine Project reveal that Texas A&M officials knew they were required by state law to report the exposure, but they failed to do so. At the time, Defense Secretary Robert Gates was president of the university.

Sunshine Project claims to have documented several other unreported incidents, but that there are undoubtedly many more that have been successfully burried "due to the absence of effective federal regulation."

Texas A&M is on the short list of bidders for a $451 Homeland Security Contract to build and operate the proposed National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility, which is expected to bring in up to $6 billion over 20 years. The other competitors don't look so hot, either.

The government is not only allowing places like Texas A&M to play with dangerous bioweapons without any regulation or accountability, it is encouraging them to do so.

"It is common knowledge in the biodefense business that lab accidents with bioweapons agents are routinely buried in order to avoid negative publicity and endangering funding," said Sunshine Project Director Edward Hammond. [read more]

BIO-LAB PROCESS VICTORY,    Judge says, NIH can no longer tell us what they will and will not do involving the community and the process

Boston, Massachusetts - 18 December 2006

Judge Saris started the hearing by questioning the federal defendants, which is not the usual procedure. It showed that she had read and absorbed our arguments that NIH and Boston University were not planning to perform a full-blown supplemental environmental review that conforms to the law.

She said that she had the same concerns as Judge Gants that the review that was done was inadequate. She then told the defendants that they had to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act in all its requirements. She did not spell out the requirements.

She clearly indicated that there would be an opportunity for the public to comment on the risk assessment and the alternative site analysis.

Although she said that NIH and BU claimed to have provided enough notice to the residents, she said that they should still do a better job in contacting the community and should have involved community groups in alerting the public.

She wants the Plaintiffs to tell NIH and BU what needs to be done to have a valid community dialogue. We are to write a letter telling them whom to contact and how, where to hold meetings and so forth.

Government Funding Reduced for Boston University BSL4 Laboratory

By Prasannan Parthasarathi, Vicky Steinitz, Stop the Bioterror Lab Coalition | October 23, 2006

Itís time for city and state officials to call a halt to construction

To the Editor:

Although a Boston University spokeswoman said the university was pleased that a federal judge deferred action in a suit to stop funding of its BSL4 laboratory [10.21 Ė Smith article], it appears federal money may have already dried up. Deborah Wilson, a senior NIH official, revealed at a Monday night community meeting that NIH has suspended funding for the facility until additional risk assessments have been completed. These additional assessments were needed after a state court ruled this summer that the project could not continue until a new Environmental Impact Review was conducted.

Despite this court decision, and without the proper environmental approvals, Boston University has continued construction of the lab with its own funds, money that should be spent on its students and on patients at the Boston Medical Center. (The BMC has contributed $25 million to the project.) For three years BU has argued that placing this high-risk lab in Boston should not be challenged because it will bring badly needed federal dollars to our city. If these dollars may not be forthcoming, why continue with the laboratory? Itís time for city and state officials to call a halt to construction.   [read more]

City cuts back on plan to regulate biolabs

By Stephen Heuser, Globe Staff | August 23, 2006

Scientists feared loss of confidentiality

In the face of opposition from Harvard University, pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co., and the state biotechnology industry, Boston is scaling back its pioneering plan to regulate research on infectious organisms in laboratories within city limits.   [read more]

The Greatest Danger

Bay State Banner, 17 July 2005

In case you missed it, here is the editorial in the 8/17/06 Bay State Banner about Judge Gantsí decision in the biolab case:

The greater danger

Opponents of the biolab under construction in the South End were encouraged last week when a Suffolk Superior Court judge issued a ruling that challenged the thoroughness of the biolabís environmental impact study. Judge Ralph Gants apparently believes that the study did not adequately evaluate the suitability of other sites.

Hereís the problem with his decision: only one site was under consideration. Boston University was willing to contribute $50 million of the $178 million project cost only if the lab could be located at a site on campus which would be highly accessible to scientists and researchers. The only significant question, then, was whether the Boston University Medical Center site met environmental standards. The Executive Office of Environmental Affairs ruled that it did.

Community response to Gantsí opinion indicates residents are still laboring under disinformation. Indeed, any laboratory containing anthrax, botulism, SARS, Ebola and plague creates a hazard. However, airtight security will eliminate the danger. But that hazard is not as great as the danger our nation will face if terrorists import these toxins into the country and release them, and no cures exist.

The real danger is for the U.S. to be unprepared with medical remedies to survive germ warfare because we did not have enough Level-4 labs to find the antidotes.

For those of you who donít know, Melvin B. Miller, the Publisher/Editor of the Bay State Banner, is a Boston Medical Center trustee and a strong proponent of the lab. BMC, a part of BU, is splitting with BU the $50 million cost of building the lab that is not covered by the federal grant (about a $25 million payment by BMC). The Banner has consistently supported the lab but I do not recall whether it has ever disclosed Mr. Millerís relationship with BMC.

Bostoniana, Boston Style

April 24, 2006

BARDA [Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Agency] will be exempt from the Freedom of Information Act. Also exempt: the operations of The BioLab.
BARDA and The BioLab will be exempt from the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, which requires public transparency and open meetings. No evidence of injuries or deaths resulting from drugs or vaccines labeled as ďcountermeasuresĒ to bioterrorism or epidemics will ever become public.  [ read more ]

BU Bioterrorism Lab News

April 7, 2006

This newsletter has in depth information about the present status of legislation, safety issues, and all things important on Bioterrorism Lab News.

The newsletter is on-line, at

BU's Biolab and the Law

By Daniel Goodenough and David Ozonoff  |  Boston Globe, February 10, 2006
The wording of the 1994 Public Health Commission ban is concise and straightforward: recombinant DNA ''requiring containment defined by the [NIH] guidelines as 'BL4' [today known as BSL-4] shall not be permitted in the City of Boston."
The existing ban on recombinant DNA research in a BSL-4 lab in Boston must be upheld. This same restriction is in place in Cambridge. We must not sacrifice public safety for researchers pushing their own agendas. We urge Mayor Thomas M. Menino and city councilors to follow the guidelines put in place by the Public Health Commission.   [ read more ]

Please call Mayor Menino (617-635-4500) and the Boston Public Health Commissioner, John Auerbach, ((617) 534-5395) and ask they why they support a lab that would break Boston law.

Alternatives for Community and Environment
BU Bioterrorism Lab News

November 22 2005
ACE builds the power of communities of color and lower income communities in New England to eradicate environmental racism and classism and achieve environmental justice. We believe that everyone has the right to a healthy environment and to be decision-makers in issues affecting our communities.   [read more]


Wednesday, October 26, 2005 -
A rapidly moving bill introduced in the Senate last week would establish a new Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Agency (BARDA) that would be categorically exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Ordinary FOIA exemptions place specific categories of information beyond the reach of FOIA.

But the audacious new BARDA exemption would nullify the applicability of the FOIA to an entire agency.
[read more]

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