Hello Community Members,
After all of these years, they have finally listened to us, sort of. The BU biolab is considering opening only the BSL2 lab, which studies far less harmful pathogens than the proposed BSL4 lab. To let you know the magnitude of this, there are already thousands of BSL2 labs in Boston; pretty much every hospital has one. BSL2 labs study more common diseases, most of which are already present in the community, so there would be less consequence from an accidental released. A BSL2 lab, compared to a BSL4 lab, would mean that no anthrax would be shipped through our streets.
This is due in large part to the legal and community pressure put forth by Safety Net, as well as Safety Net’s proposed alternative use plan, in which we suggested the lab be used to study the health threats already present in our community, rather than importing exotic diseases like Ebola and Marburg. For example, antibiotic resistant bacteria are described as the world’s number one health threat by the WHO. They can be studied in a BSL2 lab because they are not virulent like Ebola, and they already exist in our community, anyway, so they pose less of a threat if accidentally released. Not only that, but the study of these pathogens could help our community. No one in South Boston, probably no one in the whole US, would benefit from a cure for Ebola, but new treatments for antibiotic resistant bacteria would help us all.
Don’t breathe easy yet, though. BU is still considering the BSL4 lab for the future, as well as BSL3 facilities. We have worked for years to keep the BSL4 out of our neighborhood, and now that decisions are being made we need to work harder. We need to let everybody know our support for the alternative use proposal, and that we never want a BSL4 lab in our backyard.
To learn more about the new plan, read this article on BU’s revised plans for the biolab.