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THE PROBLEMS OF BIOLOGICAL SAFETY IN RUSSIA

V.I. Evstigneev

JSC "Biopreparat"

Actual state important problem of national biological safety, which is crucial for Russian Federation is an extremely complicated scientific and practical task, that has no simple solutions. Hereinafter the term national safety implies readiness of the country counteract and eliminate the consequences of extreme biological socio-biological situations, including the population safety, life-support system, farm animals and plants, objects of environment.

One of the principal bases of the state safety appears to be the health of citizens and healthy environment.

A human being, as a biological species and product of evolution is able to exist only within narrow limits of habitat's parameters, provided by the functioning of the whole biospheric complex. That's why not only a nation's future but the future of the whole mankind is closely connected with the presentation of life conditions, rather than with the existing explorated resources. Based on biospheric but not anthropocentric approach of consumer's society, modern biology insists on understanding a man as a human being with deep roots in wild nature, linked with it by factors of gene-cultural co-evolution. The bases of modern biopolicy taken by world community as guidelines in defining the strategy of survival were laid on the outstanding Russian scientist V.Vernadsky in his fundamental studies about biosphere. The UN conference on environment and development that took place in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992 served as a powerful impetus towards activation of international efforts in the sphere of chemical and biological security. In 1995 the Russian Federation ratified convention of biological diversity and signed "The protocol on biological security", which regulates treatment and transborder transfer of any living modified organisms emerged as a result of biotechnological methods application, which can unfavorably influence the preservation and stable utilization of biological diversity of organisms. The adoption of such fundamental acts as "Convention on prohibition of biological diversity" (1972) and "The Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpilling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction" (1992) seemed to put an end at least to interethnic and global threats to biosafety. However, at the edge of new millennium two new global problems of biological safety emerged, which proved the necessity to deal with the survival of our nation and presentation of our state in general. (table 1).

Table 1. THE MOST THREAT TRENDS OF BIOLOGICAL DANGER

First problem is related to dangerous growth of infectious sickness rate and worsening of demography indices. It is well known that prognosis about total liquidation by the end of 20th century of a number of socially important infections proved to be wrong. Besides growth of the so called emerging infectious diseases was fixed. Their rate outstrips the potentialities of modern medicine. The most dangerous is the group of emerging infections of virus origin against which there is no effective therapeutic remedies. What is more, the growing spectrum of pathogenic microorganisms requires extension of test systems and diverse immunobiology preparations which involves not only enormous expenses on their development, production, purchase, but also presents a problem their rational use.

The second problem is connected with the unreasonable human activity, which is fraught with dangerous proliferation of artificially modified organisms and a grown threat of biocrimes.

The modern biotechnology has potential capabilities of providing basic needs of our country in a wide spectrum of biotechnologic preparations in the field of medicine, food, pesticides, biological fertilizers, mineral row materials, biopreparations for the safety of environment, for the development of new materials, for the development of renewable energy sources, electronic devices of different application. At the same time we should understand that biotechnological production may pose danger for a man and for ecosystems, as a dangerous pathogen may leak, leading to unpredictable consequences. It is taken for granted, that 99% gene- engineering organisms used for scientific purposes do not influence the population's health and the environment. Nevertheless, there is no guarantee in the sphere of biotechnology, as well as in any other human activity. The leak of dangerous biological stuff from any science and research institute in case of an accident may cause a biosocial extreme situation.

The biggest potential threat to national safety of any country is a premeditated use by terrorists of natural and agriculturally modified biological agents to strike populations, animals, plants, other objects. Unpredictability of bio-terrorist attacks in terms of time, objects, motives, and BW agents occupies the priority. It is that the existing biological threats (biocrimes, biocatastrophes, bioterrorism) lead to the destruction of social moral, to economic and political instability, cause enormous harm to the economy, public health and agriculture.
We have to take into account the following destabilizing factors:

  1. Worsening of ecological and sanitary-epidemiological situation;
  2. Weakness of centralized state system of biosafety;
  3. Lack of financing of fundamental and applied biological research;
  4. Lag behind in terms of development of scientific and industrial sectors in the sphere of biosafety;
  5. Lack of efficient provision of country's population by diagnostic preparations and medicines.

Taking into the motioned problems of national biological safety put on the agenda the political, organizational, legal, scientific, economical, medical, operational, informational, prognostic, educational measures.

  1. Development of vertically integrated national system of biological safety.
  2. Improvement of the state's legal base in the sphere of biological safety and its accordance with the international analogues.
  3. Non-admission of a lag in the sphere of modern biological and biotechnological sciences.
  4. The increase of education of our population in the sphere of biosafety.
  5. Implementation of a scientific and industrial complex program of biosafety.
  6. Development and introduction of IT technologies in the sphere of biosafety.
  7. Development of modern detecting and defending methods against BW weapons.
  8. Inventory of biologically dangerous objects and territories, and the introduction of passport system.
  9. Development of centers of gene's resources, conservation of unique natural reservoirs in national parks.
  10. Control over observance of international commitments in the sphere of biosafety, participation in the programs of non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and terrorism.

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Proceedings of First Russian Workshop on Biological Security
Copyright © Committee of Scientists for Global Security and Arms Control