Friday, July 14, 2006 Update 07/14/06

It’s been a while since I’ve sent an update so I thought I’d better send
something so you don’t think I was run over by a car (as my Mom likes
to say).

First off, no headway in reversing the decision to ban recording of IBC
meetings. Counsel for the UW reviewed the authorization and function
of the UW Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC). UW's counsel
concluded that, in counsel's opinion, the IBC is not subject to the Open
Public Meetings Act. With respect to recording the proceedings of
public meetings of the IBC, it has decided that when the public is
allowed to attend, then audio taping will not be allowed. Apparently,
some of the volunteer IBC members felt that they would feel inhibited
in discussing certain issues if the meetings were tape recorded.
Meanwhile BSL-3 expansion continues in South Lake Union with the
UW breaking ground on a new lab at 815 Mercer in June of this year.
The building’s 100,000 sq. ft. of lab space will be slightly less than
double the size of the proposed Regional Biocontainment Laboratory
that citizens had successfully opposed on the UW campus in 2005.

In other news, it appears that a local biotech industry front group
is leading the charge in opposing citizen efforts of lab oversight.
In documents recently received from the UW through an FOIA
request, Susan Adler, Executive Director of the Northwest
Association for Biomedical Research sent out an email to her
industry listserv titled "Blurring of Lines Among Activist Groups"
that included "Last week, a new website came into our radar - Click on it and you will see pictures and
maps of Biosafety Level 3 Labs that the webmaster believes
are operating in the Puget Sound. We have learned that
Mike McCormack, who created this site, is a Seattle based
community activist who has repeatedly inundated UW with
Freedom of Information Act request about its BSL-3 Labs.
These communications are disturbing because they point to
a new blending of people who are now connecting
misinformation about select agents along with animal rights
and ego ideologues."
(If you’d like to see a complete copy of
the email, drop me a line).

Beyond wondering what an "ego ideologue" must be (we are
pretty sure she must have meant "eco ideologue") it’s nice to
note that when it comes to university research, industry front
groups, and the biotech corporations they serve, there definitely
is no blurring of lines (they are all on the same side).

Lastly it was reported yesterday that a baboon had escaped and
was eventually recaptured from the Southwest Foundation for
Biomedical Research (not to be confused with NWABR mentioned
above). SFBR is a large private biodefense facility in San Antonio
with a BSL-4 lab and a questionable history when it comes to
dangerous pathogens. This incident again highlights the fact that
research monkeys regularly escape from research facilities (see
the Sunshine Projects Biosafety Bites #14 June 6, 2006 at

All for now.

Mike McCormick


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