Plans to set up biological security council under Belarus' Council of Ministers


Setting up a biological security council under the Council of Ministers has been suggested, BelTA learned from Prime Minister of Belarus Roman Golovchenko during a government conference.

Roman Golovchenko said: “At a recent government conference, during which the head of state looked into matters of biological security of agricultural facilities, it was said clearly that it is the exclusive domain of the state. It is the state that has to take all the measures to prevent negative manifestations. This is why we have to make up our minds about our tactics of further actions for responding to global biological threats and their consequences.”

The concept for a national system of ensuring biological security was adopted by a government resolution last year. Roman Golovchenko said: “Work on realizing the concept has been organized. Every government agency is responsible for its own aspect. A report has been submitted to the government that evaluates the state of biological security as stable across the board. At the same time we cannot be self-complacent and cannot diminish the problem. We have to be far-sighted. We have to foresee all the possible risks. This is why there is a proposal initiated by the Vitebsk Oblast Executive Committee and the Healthcare Ministry to more effectively coordinate activities in this sphere. Setting up a biological security council under the Council of Ministers has been suggested.”

The prime minister pointed out that the updated national security concept has a separate chapter dedicated to biological security. “The topicality of this matter grows higher every year. Moreover, we saw intensive propagation of a number of dangerous infectious diseases among humans and animals in the last decade. Those were outbreaks of serious respiratory diseases, the COVID-19 pandemic, panzootics of African swine fever, highly pathogenic avian influenza, and other diseases. These days we see outbreaks of human and animal diseases, which seem to have been defeated a long time ago. The problem of propagation of antibiotic-resistant microorganisms is growing. Experimentation with microorganisms in individual countries and biological labs with unclear purposes are extremely worrying. Moreover, we see activity in a number of countries, including neighboring countries. They research genomes of humans, plants. They tinker with pathogenic microorganisms. This work does not always have creative scientific interests as its goals,” Roman Golovchenko said.

While talking to reporters, Chairman of the Vitebsk Oblast Executive Committee Aleksandr Subbotin revealed some details of the initiative to set up the biological security council. In his words, the council will be chaired by the prime minister. “The council will coordinate efforts of all the bodies working in the field of biological security. Those are veterinary service, sanitary service, various applied science centers, research teams, the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Ministry. All of them do their own part of the work. We need a body to coordinate all of it so that we could be more effective by not doing the same work,” Aleksandr Subbotin said.

The official went on saying: “Fight against human and animal diseases caused by various etiological agents is very topical these days. COVID-19 helped update this area. But biological security is not restricted to diseases. It is necessary to pay attention to varieties that have come to us from abroad such as Canadian goldenrod, Sosnowsky's hogweed and break our ecosystems. The work of the service that supplies the Belarusian animal husbandry industry with pedigree genetic material is another important area. If we are losing these competences, if we are losing these industries, then we have to pay attention to the matter. The formation of a human DNA bank, DNA banks of animals and plants is another important point. We would like to more intensively work on it because this is our legacy.”

Aleksandr Subbotin stressed that the matter of genetically modified organisms is also important. “Those are plants and microorganisms that help produce cheese, additives, vitamins. Someone has to oversee and coordinate the creation of genetically modified organisms and work with them,” he concluded.

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