For Immediate Release
Wednesday, October 27, 2004
Dr. Sanders Discusses Bioterrorism Prevention and the Flu Vaccine
Mayor James Acton endorsed Dr. David Sanders, Democratic candidate for the office of U.S. Representative for the 4th Congressional District of the State of Indiana at a press conference in Lebanon. Dr. Sanders discussed his recent trip to a former bioweapons laboratory in Siberia and the potential impact of bioterrorism on Indiana. Dr. Sanders’ biodefense expertise on the Ebola virus led to an invitation to participate in the Biological Weapons Proliferation Prevention Program component of the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program. He traveled to the Vector laboratory in the area of Novosibirsk. This laboratory is one of the two facilities in the world where smallpox research is performed (the other is in the United States) and was the site of investigations on the hemorrhagic fever viruses, Ebola and Marburg viruses, during the era of the Soviet Union. It was also the location of a recent death resulting from an Ebola virus infection, the first in Russia in more than 20 years.
"The point of this program is to prevent the spread of bioweapons expertise as well as the biological agents themselves to third nations and subnational actors. Our Senator Lugar demonstrated enormous foresight in the development of this program. I believe that we would now face an even greater threat from weapons of mass destruction if it had not been in place. I strongly support continued funding for this program and diplomatic assertiveness for the achievement of its goals. This cooperative approach is the correct approach. Invading another country on the off chance that it possesses weapons of mass destruction or advocating the use of nuclear weapons in another country are self-defeating strategies. It was an honor to be invited to participate in the Nunn-Lugar program. My country asked for my help, and I was pleased to be able to make my small contribution."
Dr. Sanders had two other specific proposals. The first was that the House of Representatives Select Committee on Homeland Security should embrace a new paradigm for House Committee Rules.
"The tasks of the Select Committee on Homeland Security are so important to the wellbeing of America and its citizens that insulating it from special interests is essential. I propose that the rules for the Committee include a ban on the acceptance by Committee members of campaign contributions from lobbyists, corporate PACs, or individuals who have business in front of the Committee. These rules mirror the pledge that I have taken concerning campaign contributions and the Committees upon which I will serve in Congress."
The second proposal concerned bioterrorism and Indiana.
"A Representative needs to understand that protecting his constituents against bioterrorism may require different methods than those necessary to protect Americans in other states. The primary vulnerability in Indiana is agricultural bioterrorism. There are three methods to counteract it. The first, the major focus of the current administration, is to try to prevent the entry of the biological agents and terrorists into the country. As was exemplified by the anthrax attacks, this goal is difficult to achieve. The agents and the terrorists may already be here. The second, the development of counter-pathogen expertise and crops and animals that are resistant to pathogens, is favored by the scientific and agribusiness communities. There is considerable merit to this objective. However, there is a third, biologically based, approach to countering the future threat. Increasing crop diversity in terms of strains and species can be effective in providing a barrier to the successful spread of an agricultural bioterrorism agent. The 4th District of Indiana is in a uniquely advantageous position for establishing a program for defense against such threats because of the expertise of the faculty of Purdue University in homeland security, agricultural pathogens, agricultural economics, agricultural genomics, and agricultural outreach. I am the candidate for U.S. Representative from the 4th District who understands the challenges that we face here in Indiana and how we can meet them."
Dr. Sanders concluded with some comments on the distribution of the flu vaccine.