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Safety First

The White House has issued recommendations for biosafety, Reuters reports.

The 187-page report comes in the wake of a series of mishaps at labs in the US, including the mishandling of anthrax at an Army lab, the improper management of anthrax and influenza at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the discovery of long-lost smallpox vials in an unsecured closet at a Food and Drug Administration lab on the National Institutes of Health campus.

These new recommendations, made by Lisa Monaco, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, and John Holdren, assistant to the president for science and technology, call for increased transparency, timely reporting of breaches, accountability to the public, and better inventory controls, Monaco and Holdren say in a blog post.

"The recommendations highlight the importance of stewardship and a culture of responsibility in the scientific and technical communities, including prioritization of biosafety and biosecurity," the report says.

Monaco and Holdren note that the recommendations are aimed at federal agencies, though they say they could be applied to work with any biological agent that could pose a threat to public health or agriculture, Reuters adds.