U.S. Biodefense Strategy in a Global Community
By K. Shmueli
Biodefense is a term that evokes Biological Weapons Conventions but protecting the public from biological threats may involve people working closely together on a local, laboratory scale, as well as at the global level. As highlighted in The National Security Council’s National Strategy for Countering Biological Threats , distinguishing illicit intent within the expanse of legitimate activity presents a unique challenge in our globally interconnected community.
The Strategy takes a surprisingly progressive approach, recognizing that the life sciences community is radically open; biological information and capabilities are widely accessible and, unfortunately, it only takes a few people to do great damage. There is no push for censorship of science because the intelligence community knows it cannot change this open culture. Instead the Strategy looks to increase international cooperation and capabilities with the goal of building an improved framework for countering bioterrorism and promoting global health security.
We were privileged to discuss emerging biodefense issues with a Senior Advisor from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The biological intelligence community is much less insular than its nuclear and chemical counterparts because the latter arose in a tightly classified environment. Life scientists’ work is crucial throughout the intelligence community, from collecting and analyzing intelligence to bench science across all classes of intelligence activity: Human, Signals, Geospatial, Measures & Signatures, and, of course, Science & Technology. To maintain a cutting-edge knowledge of life sciences, including rapidly evolving research and development in biotech and pharma, intelligence insiders leverage outside experts: scientists around the world just like us!