Select Committee on Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Written Evidence

Memorandum 27

Submission from the British Embassy, Copenhagen, Denmark[32]

1.   By what mechanism(s) are micro-organisms classified with regards to their potential danger and their need to be contained?

  Denmark participates in international working groups (such as the Australian Group). These groups seek to identify micro-organisms with dual use potential (ie organisms and technology with beneficial as well as harmful potential). The potential is estimated by evaluating characteristics of the micro-organism such as pathogenicity, whether it is contagious, whether the disease can be treated, if it can be weaponized, stability, and how easily it is grown. In short a microorganism is added to the list if it is anticipated that the microorganism holds a certain potential to pose a threat to national security. This list is used to control import/export and the list is therefore more a cross-border control than a laboratory security control. Border control in Denmark is under the authority of the Danish Enterprise and Construction Agency.

2.   What are the categories of biological containment in use?

  For the time being there are no biosecurity categories. However many agents on the dual use list are also listed on the biosafety list. Agents on the biosafety list are classified on basis of their biosafety implications (biosafety classes 1-4 please confer with The above mentioned draft biosecurity law does not specify if more biosecurity categories should be established and if so how each category should be defined. Furthermore it remains to be determined how the proposed law will be implemented in the lab (eg to which standards the agents should be guarded).

3.   How are licenses to use dangerous pathogens in research awarded?

  To be determined. However, it is anticipated that there will be a legitimate need to handle dual use agents and that supervisors may need national security clearance (not yet clear to which degree).

4.   What is the inspection regime for laboratories licensed to use dangerous pathogens?

  Again presently inspections are only biosafety focused. The Danish Working Environment Authority enforces the biosafety law and is doing this by inspections. There is no entity for enforcing biosecurity—but the proposed law suggests establishing one.

5.   What training is mandatory/recommended for staff working in containment facilities?

  Employees are hired only if basic requirements are met (eg previous lab employment). In most cases neighbor training is initiated shortly after employment. Every year an individual education/development plan is agreed for each employee. Finally, some labs hold exercises. It is anticipated that the implementing and maintenance of biosecurity will add new requirements for training.

6.   What are the regulations regarding the storage and transportation of dangerous pathogens?

  The Environment Law (Miljloven) and the IATA regulations—no security specific legislation/regulation.

7.   What measures are in place to be implemented when pathogenic material cannot be accounted for?

  There are presently no measures.

8.   Who is responsible for overseeing security clearance for research students working with dangerous pathogens—what is the role of universities in this process?

  To be determined. One anticipated model could be that a new entity (eg the one mentioned in question 4) could oversee security clearances nationally. At the facility level a new position responsible for local biosecurity could be established.

January 2008

32   There is presently no Danish legislation which specifically address biosecurity issues. However, such legislation is in the process of being enacted (see Furthermore, some aspects of biosecurity are covered by other Danish laws such as biosafety legislation. Back

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