i submitted the following "letter to the editor" to the Portland Tribune today. |
I take issue with Mary Bellotti's Sept. 5 article, "OHSU loses hefty bid for biolab". First, the article creates the impression that OHSU is "unlikely" to recieve a National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant to build a Level 4 lab. But according to The Scientist magazine (April 2, 2003), the NIH wants to build at least one Level 4 lab on the West Coast, and only two applicants are contending: OHSU and the University of California at Davis. Since "Davis was a strong contender, but community opposition has forced UC officials to seek alternate sites," OHSU is in a good position.
Second, Bellotti posits -- without any apparent irony -- that "the need for such research became a prominent issue two years ago in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and incidents of mailed anthrax", even though it is now well-documented that the anthrax used in those attacks "originated within the U.S. biodefense program, where the necessary expertise and access are found" (LA Times, Sept. 22, 2002, et al.). It is not rational or logical to argue that the U.S. government needs more "biodefense" labs to protect itself from the substances currently being created and stored in existing ones.