< Back to H.R. 6297 (111th Congress, 2009–2010)

Text of the International Biosecurity Act of 2010

This bill was introduced on September 29, 2010, in a previous session of Congress, but was not enacted. The text of the bill below is as of Sep 29, 2010 (Introduced).

Source: GPO

I

111th CONGRESS

2d Session

H. R. 6297

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

September 29, 2010

introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs

A BILL

To improve the international strategy of the United States for monitoring, reducing, and responding to biological risks, and for other purposes.

1.

Short title; table of contents

(a)

Short title

This Act may be cited as the International Biosecurity Act of 2010.

(b)

Table of contents

The table of contents for this Act is as follows:

Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.

Sec. 2. Findings.

Sec. 3. Sense of Congress.

Sec. 4. International Biosecurity Initiative (IBSI).

Sec. 5. International Biosecurity Task Force.

Sec. 6. Establishment of the Nonproliferation and Counterterrorism Fellowship Program.

Sec. 7. Technical review and assessment of harmful biological incident and activity investigation technologies.

Sec. 8. Review and assessment of global legal regime for biosecurity.

Sec. 9. Reporting requirements.

Sec. 10. International disease outbreak information sharing.

Sec. 11. Definitions.

2.

Findings

Congress finds the following:

(1)

The advance of biological science is vital to increasing the health of humanity, ensuring the well-being of the environment, and spurring economic growth.

(2)

In 2001, letters containing anthrax spores were distributed via the United States postal system, infecting 22 people and resulting in five deaths, extensive social disruption, and extensive costs for emergency response and remediation.

(3)

In 2001, while engaging the Taliban in Afghanistan, coalition forces came into possession of a significant body of evidence that al-Qaeda was seeking to develop the capability to conduct biological weapons attacks.

(4)

In a time of international terrorist threats and global health epidemics, United States policy with regard to biological risks is in need of a well coordinated strategy to ensure the effectiveness of efforts to protect the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States.

(5)

Biological risks extend beyond biological weapons developed or used by foreign countries and also include intentional release of harmful biological agents by non-state groups or individuals, harmful outcomes through unintentional release or unforeseen consequences of biological research and experimental biological agents, and natural disease outbreaks.

(6)

A major disease outbreak affecting animals or crops, whether intentionally inflicted or natural, anywhere in the world could threaten food supplies and economic prosperity, potentially exacerbating broader security concerns.

(7)

A major disease outbreak against civilian populations, whether intentionally inflicted or natural, anywhere in the world could cause devastating loss of life and economic harm. Such an outbreak would have adverse implications for United States national security and foreign policy.

(8)

Improving global capacity for monitoring and detecting disease outbreaks improves the ability of the United States to counter both natural and man-made biological risks.

(9)

A well-coordinated strategy for countering harmful biological incidents that integrates United States foreign policies will help ensure the health of Americans as well as security against terrorism and other threats.

(10)

In November 2009, President Obama set forth a National Strategy for Countering Biological Threats.

(11)

The changing geopolitical climate in which a number of countries and non-state actors are seeking or have acquired weapons of mass destruction indicates that the United States will require specialized nonproliferation experts in addition to experts in regional security.

(12)

The United States national security community has focused primarily on technical and international security solutions to international proliferation.

(13)

There are limited opportunities for the next generation of policy makers and nonproliferation specialists to undertake interdisciplinary study in the area of nonproliferation policy.

(14)

Coordinating foreign assistance and other international efforts to improve the ability of partner countries to detect and respond to disease outbreaks benefits partner nations and also improves the United States security by preventing the spread of infectious disease.

3.

Sense of Congress

It is the sense of Congress that—

(1)

emerging biological technologies, while providing the promise for unprecedented improvements in health and the environment, may pose a potential for harm, both intentional and accidental or inadvertent;

(2)

the National Strategy for Countering Biological Threats, released by President Obama in November 2009, is a significant step toward enhancing domestic and international biosecurity;

(3)

because biological risks do not heed political borders, United States policy to counter such risks should include cooperation with other countries and improved coordination within the United States Government;

(4)

the United States should work with other countries toward developing international standards and an oversight framework for biological research to prevent and mitigate harmful outcomes;

(5)

the United States strategy for monitoring, reducing, and responding to biological risks should address both natural and man-made risks and should be able to identify and mitigate the impact of both intentional and unintentional or unforeseen harmful biological incidents;

(6)

United States collaboration with and assistance to foreign countries aimed at reducing biological risks should be mutually beneficial and serve to counter natural or man-made biological risks that are mutually determined to be of high importance; and

(7)

because the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction (commonly referred to as the Biological Weapons Convention or BWC) embodies the global norm against the development, production, acquisition, and transfer of biological agents for hostile purposes, United States policy should aim to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention by increasing its adherence, addressing its transparency and compliance mechanisms, and strengthening its effectiveness to build confidence internationally.

4.

International Biosecurity Initiative (IBSI)

(a)

Establishment

To improve the United States international strategy for reducing and responding to biological risks and to aid in the implementation of President Obama’s 2009 National Strategy for Countering Biological Threats, the Secretary of State, in coordination with the heads of other relevant Federal agencies, shall establish an initiative to be known as the International Biosecurity Initiative.

(b)

Purpose

The International Biosecurity Initiative shall—

(1)

pursue efforts, through multilateral and bilateral activities, to support, establish, and implement internationally harmonized standards for assuring critical pathogen and laboratory safety and security and for assessing broad social consequences, including—

(A)

working in multilateral forums, including forums that engage the private sector, research, and public health communities, to establish, based on international needs and domestic lessons-learned, and regularly update international standards for pathogen and laboratory safety and security;

(B)

promoting international codes of ethics to ensure safety and security and reinforcing norms during the education and throughout the career of scientists in academia, industry, or government;

(C)

encouraging the development and implementation of emergency reporting and response in the event of a breach of pathogen or laboratory security; and

(D)

providing technical and financial assistance, including training, to other countries to facilitate the adoption, sustainable implementation, and enforcement of national measures in accordance with international standards for the safety, transportation, and security of biological agents and laboratories;

(2)

pursue efforts, through bilateral, regional, and multilateral activities, to ensure a strong global legal regime for biosecurity, including—

(A)

working with other countries to develop and strengthen the national criminal legislation and law enforcement capabilities of such countries for detecting, interdicting, investigating, and prosecuting criminal activities and harmonizing international biosecurity legal efforts;

(B)

developing, establishing, and promoting common internationally harmonized standards, guidance, and best practices for obtaining, handling, analyzing and sharing microbial forensic evidence;

(C)

promoting appropriate information sharing, that is in the national security interests of the United States, relating to threats and to best practices, and promoting cooperation for preventing, deterring, detecting, attributing, interdicting, investigating, and prosecuting criminal or terrorist use of biological or toxin agents between the intelligence community, United States Federal law enforcement, and international law enforcement and security officials;

(D)

promoting international legal and technical cooperation to achieve the goals described in subparagraphs (A) through (C); and

(E)

providing technical assistance to other countries, including training, to achieve the goals described in subparagraphs (A) through (C);

(3)

pursue strategies to strengthen the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction (commonly referred to as the Biological Weapons Convention or BWC) and its enforcement by—

(A)

promoting universal membership in, increased adherence to, effective implementation of, and compliance with the BWC;

(B)

developing an action plan for increasing international adherence to the BWC;

(C)

promoting stronger confidence-building and other transparency measures designed to provide mutual reassurance that national biodefense, threat assessment, and other activities comply with the BWC;

(D)

ensuring that United States participation in BWC meetings is broadly inclusive of representatives of relevant Federal departments and agencies; and

(E)

supporting efforts to strengthen the United Nations Secretary-General’s mechanism for investigating allegations of biological weapons use and to establish a multilateral capability to investigate alleged breaches of BWC obligations;

(4)

engage in cooperative efforts to improve national, regional, and multinational surveillance and response capabilities with respect to outbreaks of infectious diseases, whether naturally occurring or man-made, including—

(A)

working with countries to ensure full compliance with World Health Organization disease reporting obligations;

(B)

supporting efforts, in coordination with the Emerging Pandemic Threats program, to improve global capacity for identifying, diagnosing, tracking, and reporting pathogens responsible for possible infectious disease outbreaks of international significance, including—

(i)

improving international laboratory capacity for expeditiously collecting, analyzing, and identifying a broad array of pathogens including mutated strains which may cause infectious disease outbreaks or may be used in a biological weapon; and

(ii)

improving international capacity for effectively collecting, analyzing, transmitting, and reporting validated data and public health information about such infectious disease outbreaks;

(C)

providing assistance to international and regional health organizations to—

(i)

enhance the surveillance and reporting capabilities of the World Health Organization and existing international regional and international health networks; and

(ii)

develop new international regional and international health networks;

(D)

providing assistance to facilitate standardization in the reporting of public health information between and among developing countries and international health organizations;

(E)

working with the Secretary of Health and Human Services to establish new country or regional international Field Epidemiology Training Programs in eligible developing countries;

(F)

establishing and providing assistance for short training courses in—

(i)

laboratory techniques relating to the identification, diagnosis, and tracking of pathogens responsible for possible infectious disease outbreaks; and

(ii)

techniques of disease and syndrome surveillance reporting and rapid analysis of syndrome information using Geographic Information System (GIS) tools;

(G)

promoting efforts to make widely available, especially in developing countries, medical and pharmaceutical measures to counter infectious diseases, including through stockpiling of such measures; and

(H)

working with other countries and multilateral and regional bodies to provide technical assistance for developing biological and health response capabilities in other countries;

(5)

support the development of international mechanisms that enhance the coordination and implementation of biosecurity policies;

(6)

facilitate the alignment of foreign assistance for biosecurity with the public health needs of recipient countries, including—

(A)

assisting in the planning, development, enhancement, and training of response capabilities for disease outbreaks in recipient countries and regions; and

(B)

assisting in the promotion of effective cooperation among public health, law enforcement, and other responder communities in recipient countries and regions;

(7)

engage in multilateral and bilateral discussions of biodefense programs and control of sensitive biotechnologies to ensure that they are limited to prophylactic, protective, and other peaceful purposes;

(8)

develop an assessment of, and appropriate policies to address, the potential security threats and societal and ethical impacts posed by emerging and future biotechnology developments, including synthetic genomics, synthetic biology, human genetic modification, and other biotechnology relevant for the modification of human beings, including through the establishment of international agreement regarding the appropriate uses of advanced biotechnology and proscription of nefarious uses and abhorrent practices; and

(9)

pursue such other activities that the Secretary of State determines will enhance international biosecurity.

(c)

Program components

With respect to—

(1)

the short training courses related to laboratory techniques referred to in subsection (b)(4)(F)(i)—

(A)

such courses shall be for eligible nationals who are laboratory technicians or other public health personnel;

(B)

the training shall be held outside the United States and may be conducted in facilities of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention located in foreign countries or in Overseas Medical Research Units of the Department of Defense, as appropriate; and

(C)

the Secretary of State shall coordinate the training, where appropriate, with existing programs and activities of international health organizations; and

(2)

disease and syndrome surveillance reporting and rapid analysis of syndrome information referred to in subsection (b)(4)(F)(ii)—

(A)

such courses shall be for eligible nationals who are health care providers or other public health personnel;

(B)

the training shall be conducted via the Internet or in appropriate facilities located in a foreign country, as determined by the Secretary of State; and

(C)

the Secretary of State shall coordinate the training, where appropriate, with existing programs and activities of international regional and international health organizations.

(d)

Reporting

Activities undertaken pursuant to subsection (b) to improve or facilitate the reporting of biological incidents, including breaches of pathogen or laboratory security, infectious disease outbreaks, and public health information, shall be aimed at improving and facilitating such reporting only to the United States, the World Health Organization, and other responsible countries and international entities.

(e)

Rule of construction

Nothing in this Act shall require the Secretary of State to share information about United States defensive measures against biological weapons or other threats that could be useful to adversaries in developing biological weapons or agents that could defeat such defensive measures.

(f)

Authorization of appropriations

There are authorized to be appropriated such sums as are necessary to the Secretary of State for carrying out this section.

5.

International Biosecurity Task Force

The Secretary of State shall convene an International Biosecurity Task Force of prominent experts, including from the scientific, public health, legal, academic, security, research bioethics, and private sector communities, to serve as a nongovernmental consultative body for the International Biosecurity Initiative established pursuant to section 4. The Task Force shall provide advice to the security, societal, and ethical implications of emerging and future biotechnology developments, including synthetic genomics, synthetic biology, human genetic modification, and other biotechnology relevant for the modification of human beings, as well as efforts toward the establishment of international agreement regarding the appropriate uses of advanced biotechnology and proscription of nefarious uses and abhorrent practices.

6.

Establishment of the Nonproliferation and Counterterrorism Fellowship Program

(a)

In general

The Secretary of State shall establish a program (to be known as the Nonproliferation and Counterterrorism Fellowship Program) to provide eligible students and recent graduates educational fellowships for obtaining a deeper understanding of Federal efforts to counter terrorist activities and groups and to promote nonproliferation.

(b)

Fellowship program components

The Nonproliferation and Counterterrorism Fellowship Program authorized by this section shall—

(1)

be awarded to eligible students and recent graduates;

(2)

require such students or recent graduates to complete an educational fellowship at a Federal agency or in Congress, for a period of not less than 3 months, during which fellowship such students and recent graduates shall participate in activities relevant to the goals of the graduate studies of such students and recent graduates;

(3)

ensure that such educational fellowships at Federal agencies or in Congress are designed to contribute to the eligible students’ and recent graduates’ preparation for a career in a field relating to the goals of the Program authorized by this section; and

(4)

provide financial support to eligible students and recent graduates selected for the program in accordance with subsection (c).

(c)

Financial support

The Nonproliferation and Counterterrorism Fellowship Program shall provide to each eligible student and recent graduate selected for the program for the period during which the student or recent graduate is participating in an educational fellowship at a Federal agency or in Congress as required by subsection (b)(2), a stipend in an amount determined by the Secretary.

(d)

Regulations

Not later than one year after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State shall promulgate regulations to carry out this section.

(e)

Authorization of appropriations

There are authorized to be appropriated $10,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2011 through 2015 to the Secretary of State for carrying out the Nonproliferation and Counterterrorism Fellowship Program under this section.

7.

Technical review and assessment of harmful biological incident and activity investigation technologies

(a)

In general

Not later than one year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State, in coordination with the heads of other relevant Federal agencies, the National Academies, or any other agency or organization the Secretary determines appropriate, shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report containing a technical review and assessment of the limits and capabilities of technologies that could be used for investigating biological incidents and allegations of illegal biological weapons activities. This report shall be submitted in unclassified form, but may include a classified annex.

(b)

Authorization of appropriations

There are authorized to be appropriated such sums as are necessary to the Secretary of State for carrying out the review and assessment described in section (a) of this section.

8.

Review and assessment of global legal regime for biosecurity

(a)

In general

Not later than one year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State, in coordination with the heads of other relevant Federal agencies, shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a review and assessment of the global legal regime for biosecurity, including—

(1)

implementation and enforcement of laws against criminal activities in other countries including extradition treaties and agreements;

(2)

transnational exchange of relevant information between law enforcement authorities;

(3)

attributing responsibility, apprehending, and prosecuting individuals or entities responsible for deliberately releasing pathogens;

(4)

licensing and use approval of medical countermeasures during a disease emergency;

(5)

national and international authority for effectively responding to and recovering from a disease outbreak;

(6)

the establishment and implementation of national and international legal measures for ensuring pathogen and laboratory biosafety and biosecurity; and

(7)

national legal mechanisms to review biodefense research and development activities for compliance with the BWC.

(b)

Authorization of appropriations

There are authorized to be appropriated such sums as are necessary to the Secretary of State for carrying out the review and assessment described in section (a) of this section.

9.

Reporting requirements

Section 140(a) of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1988 and 1989 (22 U.S.C. 12 2656f(a)) is amended—

(1)

in paragraph (3)(B), by striking and at the end;

(2)

in paragraph (4), by striking the period at the end and inserting ; and; and

(3)

by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

(5)

detailed assessments of the ability of each foreign country described in paragraphs (1) through (4) to detect and respond to acts of terrorism, including information on—

(A)

surveillance capabilities for detecting infectious disease outbreaks; and

(B)

the ability of the public health and law enforcement communities of each such country to effectively minimize damage to public health, economic infrastructure, and global security during and immediately after a terrorist attack.

.

10.

International disease outbreak information sharing

(a)

In general

The Secretary of State shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report following any incident in which a foreign country fails to share, in a timely manner, information, including biological samples and epidemiological data, about the outbreak of a previously unknown infectious disease or a new strain of an infectious disease or about an outbreak for which the country is otherwise required to share information pursuant to commitments made by the country. This report shall include a summary the activities of the relevant country pertaining to the disease outbreak and steps taken by the United States and by relevant international organizations, including the World Health Organization, to obtain this information.

(b)

Withholding

The Secretary of State shall withhold 10 percent of the foreign assistance given to any country failing to share information on infectious disease outbreaks as described in subsection (a). This withholding will remain in effect until the information is provided. This withholding may be waived at if the President determines that to do so is in the national interest.

11.

Definitions

In this Act:

(1)

Appropriate congressional committees

The term appropriate congressional committees means the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate.

(2)

Appropriate graduate program

The term appropriate graduate program means a graduate level degree or certificate program at an institution of higher education that provides for the multidisciplinary study of issues relating to weapons nonproliferation or counterterrorism and includes training in at least several of the following areas—

(A)

assessment and forecasting of proliferation threats, including non-state actors,

(B)

technologies underlying weapons of mass destruction,

(C)

international agreements and regimes to prevent and limit the spread of weapons of mass destruction, including threat reduction assistance,

(D)

nonproliferation export controls, including governance of dual-use technologies,

(E)

policy tools and responses to proliferation by both states and non-state actors,

(F)

the politics and process of nuclear proliferation and renunciation decisionmaking, and

(G)

regional security issues relevant to proliferation.

(3)

Critical pathogen

The term critical pathogen means any biological organism that is used in biological research and is involved in the transmission of infectious diseases whose intentional or unintentional release poses a significant threat to public health.

(4)

Eligible national

The term eligible national means any citizen or national of an eligible developing country who—

(A)

does not have a criminal background;

(B)

is not on any immigration or other United States watch list; and

(C)

is not affiliated with any foreign terrorist organization.

(5)

Eligible student

The term eligible student means a student who—

(A)

has obtained from an institution of higher education (as defined in section 102 of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1002)) a bachelor’s degree or other degree that is acceptable for admission to a graduate or professional degree program;

(B)

is applying to, or has been admitted for enrollment in, an appropriate graduate program;

(C)

is a United States citizen; and

(D)

is otherwise qualified (as determined by the Secretary).

(6)

Foreign assistance

The term foreign assistance means assistance authorized under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2151 et seq.).

(7)

Institution of higher education

Except as otherwise expressly provided, the term institution of higher education has the meaning given such term in section 101(a) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1001(a)).

(8)

Technical review and assessment

The term technical review and assessment means a policy-neutral study conducted by scientific and technical experts to assess the ability of available technology to verify the purpose of biological research programs and to detect weaponization activities.

(9)

Eligible developing country

The term eligible developing country means any developing country that—

(A)

has agreed to the objective of fully complying with requirements of the World Health Organization on reporting public health information on outbreaks of infectious diseases; and

(B)

has not been determined by the Secretary, for purposes of section 40 of the Arms Export Control Act (22 U.S.C. 2780), section 620A of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2371), or section 6(j) of the Export Administration Act of 1979 (50 U.S.C. App. 2405), to have repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism, unless the Secretary exercises a waiver certifying that it is in the national interest of the United States to provide assistance under the provisions of this Act.