The IFBAs portfolio of programs addresses multiple threats to human security, reaching across the entire spectrum of biological threats from naturally-occurring outbreaks of infectious diseases to disease being used to deliberately cause harm. We recognize that biological agents require a fundamentally different approach to biosecurity given their self-replicating character. Benign pathogens can be rendered pathogenic through genetic engineering. There exists no mechanism to detect removal of pathogens from a facility and theft of a minute quantity could present a serious threat.
They are often present in many types of biological laboratories around the world that are typically accessible to the public and often have a diverse and changing workforce (e.g. hospitals, universities). A small quantity of pathogenic material in the wrong hands would be sufficient to develop a robust biological weapons capacity and could cause a major disease outbreak or global pandemic.
The dual-use nature of biological agents and the difficulties associated with determining if pathogens have been removed from laboratory facilities necessitates an approach to biological security that emphasizes a culture of responsibility and accountability. As a result, securing biological materials is highly dependent on the integrity of the individuals who have access to them.
The IFBA and its member biosafety associations are working in partnership and leveraging resources to address biosecurity issues and foster a culture of security among scientists with access to dangerous biological materials. Over the past several years, we have disseminated best practices and guidelines, assisted countries in strengthening their own policies, and conducted outreach and training workshops, with a particular focus on raising awareness about biological security and dual-use issues. Through ongoing interaction with BTWC Implementation Support Unit, the UN 1540 Committee and the UN Office of Disarmament Affairs, biosafety associations are assisting efforts to build capacity and support States in their implementation of the Biological Weapons Convention and UN Security Resolution 1540.
The BWC and UN 1540 communities are important partners for the IFBA in achieving our complimentary security goals across the world.