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BIODEFENSE DEBATE RAGES

My story earlier this week on overblown fears about biological and chemical threats has generated an unexpectedly intense debate. Brandon Keim, with the Council for Responsible Genetics, is the latest to weigh in:

The amount of money being spent by the Bush administration to build new bioterror research facilities could, if spent internationally, do such things as eradicate malaria or vaccinate millions of children; emerging infectious diseases in the developing world pose far more of a threat than 'bioterrorists'.Moreover, the best defense against biological terrorism is a sturdy public health infrastructure -- one with proper training and equipment, open lines of communication, and (most importantly) the widest possible coverage of the population. Needless to say, the public health system under the Bush administration has corroded with alarming rapidity, most visibly in the millions of people who have lost health coverage -- and as a result might delay seeking medical care at the beginning of a disease outbreak, when time is most of the essence.
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