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Life sciences research provides for improved health care for humans, animals, and plants; protection and response against infectious diseases; and innovation and competition in a global economy. Preservation of the beneficial aspects of the life sciences enterprise is paramount to maintaining our Nation’s efforts in this arena. The U.S. Government recognizes that the responsible conduct of life sciences research, balanced with security concerns, needs to involve researchers in all efforts to reduce the risks of laboratory acquired infections or other biological incidents (naturally occurring, accidental, or intentional). Past events, which have had significant community and policy impacts, highlight the need for concerted community action to support biosecurity and biosecurity policies.

Biosecurity is one of the three components of biorisk management, which ensures the safe use and security of biological materials in laboratories. Biosecurity focuses on protecting biological agents from theft, loss, or misuse. Laboratory biosecurity refers to the protection, control of, and accountability for high-consequence biological agents and toxins, and critical relevant biological materials and information within laboratories to prevent unauthorized possession, loss, theft, misuse, diversion, and intentional release.

A biosecurity plan encompasses three major components of protection: physical security, personnel reliability, and information security. A research facility should consider all three aspects of biosecurity to ensure the safety of their personnel and the security of the biological agents and toxins in use there. Physical security focuses on preventing unauthorized access to biological facilities and ensuring only the appropriate people within the facilities can access agents. Personnel reliability focuses on ensuring that all staff at a biological facility are responsible and are suitable to work with sensitive materials. Information security, which includes cyber security, focuses on ensuring all electronic information is safe from theft or misuse.

The handling of biological materials, including transportation, is an element of biosecurity. These aspects are addressed by a variety of agencies focused on aspects such as export controls, import, and chemical safety. 

In addition, a biosafety program​ to address the risks posed by biological research to scientists, laboratory workers, the community, and the environment is a component of a biorisk management approach.

This page last reviewed: November 20, 2015