Law in the Time of Anthrax: Biosecurity Lessons from the United States

Christian Enemark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (SciVal)


In 2009, under the National Health Security Act 2007 (Cth), the Australian Government began introducing biosecurity regulations for laboratory research and other work involving certain pathogenic micro-organisms. The Security-Sensitive Biological Agents (SSBA) scheme is virtually unprecedented in Australia but is similar to the Biological Select Agents and Toxins (BSATs) scheme which has existed in the United States since the mid-1990s. This article examines recent United States experience in using domestic law as a national security tool to address the problem of biological weapons. The two lessons that emerge for Australia regarding biosecurity regulation are, first, that security threats can emanate from trusted laboratory personnel, even those with high-level security clearances; and secondly, governments need to manage the risk of imposing too great a regulatory burden. A reduction in potentially life-saving research, precipitated by scientists opting out of laboratory work, could undermine capacity to resist both natural infectious disease outbreaks and biological attacks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)748-760
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of law and medicine
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2010


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