Bioforensics Standards

The Futurist, May-June 2004 | Go to article overview

Bioforensics Standards


The goal in combatting terrorism is not just to identify perpetrators, but also to prosecute them successfully. To make that happen, a national system to establish guidelines for handling bioagents used in alleged criminal activities could soon be in place in the United States.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has established a scientific working group to standardize bioterrorism procedures and better serve the public in the event of a biological or chemical attack.

This standardization would ensure that, if the best laboratories in the nation were asked to respond to a bioterrorist threat, they would do so with every confidence in their procedures.

The FBI's working group has already published a set of quality-assurance guidelines to be used by labs conducting microbial forensics casework. Working group members have developed analysis criteria so that any findings can be both scientifically sound and admissible in a court of law. These guidelines will provide a basis for establishing uniform quality benchmarks that can be used to evaluate laboratory performance and assure courts that the data provided by these analyses is reliable.

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