A contradiction sits at the core of U.S. biological threat prevention policy. Despite the U.S. government accepting the scientific and industrial costs of a domestic biosecurity system, it has not committed the diplomatic and financial resources needed to successfully promote the global adoption of similar systems. While the safety and security of biological pathogens within the United States are important national goals, their pursuit has the potential to impede another crucial goal: a robust research and commercial enterprise. To make matters worse, domestic policies are insufficient to fully protect U.S. citizens, since they provide limited protection from attacks launched with pathogens brought into the United States from abroad. Biosecurity has become a global problem. With the rapid spread of technology and know-how, attacks that originate from less-regulated locales outside the United States are becoming increasingly serious risks to U.S. national security. This means that the United States is bearing the full costs of domestic bio threat prevention without attaining the benefits of a thorough global prevention system.
Carol Kuntz was a visiting fellow with the CSIS International Security Program in 2011-2012, having served as a career professional in the U.S. Department of Defense since 1988. Reynolds Salerno is senior manager of the International Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) programs in the Global Security Center at Sandia National Laboratories. Eli Jacobs is program coordinator and research assistant for the Defense and National Security Group at CSIS.