Fighting along the Turkish and Syrian boarder town of Kobane has intensified in recent days. Though recent air strikes by the U.S. has reportedly sent many Islamic State fighters out of the town, the threat is still present. The Islamic State has this strategic town surrounded on three sides; to the north is Turkey, who has had a long history of turmoil with the northern Syrian Kurds or PKK. Turkey now has a strong bargaining chip in the battle with the PKK. Turkey is currently protecting its own boarder, while the world watches the battle for Kobane. They know their long standing enemies need their help, but in order to provide the much needed assistance, Turkey will require conditions most suitable for themselves. If they take no action, they can watch their enemies fall while protecting their own boarder and hope for U.S. intervention.
The U.S. has promised not to send ground troops into this warring region, but these airstrikes are seeming to slow the Islamic State radicals only marginally. The U.S. has attempted to hit them where it hurts, the wallet, by strategically bombing their income sources such as oil refineries.
This lack of action taken by Turkey has caused some frustration in senior White House officials, especially since they are in the best position to help Syria and hurt the Islamic State. They care more about ousting Assad than worrying about Islamic State coming into their country.
Today the White House announced the specifics of regulations, passed in 2013, to oversee federally funded Biotech research. These guidelines were put in place to ensure a government funded organization does not accidentally produce bioweapons. This policy is known as the United States Government Policy for Institutional Oversight of Life Sciences Dual Use Research of Concern, and the rules were developed by the National Institute of Health and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
Critics believe the policy is underwhelming and penalties are not tough enough. The harshest penalties for those that violate the policy are having funding pulled, and the regulatory agency had a “sorry track record of nonenforcement,” according to Richard H. Ebright, a molecular biologist from Rutgers. Other shortcomings include the lack of coverage of respiratory diseases, including SARS and MERS, and the fact that less than 1% of government funded research will be covered in the policy.
Biotechnology is a highly lucrative and fast growing industry. Advancements in technology and biotechnology will continue to grow at an exponential rate. The U.S. government’s weak regulation of these firms puts the public at a risk of a bioweapon that could devastate our society. The United States needs to be a global leader in biotechnology policing and focus just as much effort in the public sector as in the private sector. Policing these firms may be costly, but not as costly as an accidental, or intentional, biological weapon of mass destruction. There is no way to keep an eye on every “mad scientist” in the world, but we can at least we make sure the demise of humanity does not start in America.