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Malaysia Prepares Biological Weapons Convention Implementation Legislation

Malaysian officials are preparing legislation intended to help the country meet its nonproliferation obligations under the Biological Weapons Convention, Bernama reported on Tuesday (see GSN, Sept. 8, 2010).

The bill is intended to ensure the secure management of disease agents without interfering with valid biological science efforts and rekated sectors, Prime Minister Najib Razak pledged in a statement to a biosecurity conference in Kuala Lumpur.

The government is interested in independent views on how it can promote the biotechnology field without endangering biological safety and security, according to the speech read by Defense Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi. Biosafety is generally defined as measures intended to prevent the release of infectious agents within a laboratory or the outside environment. Biosecurity involves more active methods to avert biological terrorism or other disease breakouts.

Global cooperation is needed to counter biological dangers, Najib said; he also noted the importance of laboratory capabilities, communication technology and first responders.

Malaysia faces a "striking insufficiency in vaccines and therapeutics," according to the prime minister.

Nations must determine useful systems and strategies for countering an act of bioterrorism or a natural outbreak of disease," he said.

"Biodefense responsiveness is a national and international security matter as biothreat could take place at any time," Najib said.

The defense minister said his department would lead preparation of the bill alongside the Science and Technology Research Institute for Defense. The legislation could be delivered to lawmakers by mid-2012 (Bernama/The Star, July 19).

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