Since 1969 when President Nixon officially ended the Biowarfare Research & Development Program, it is illegal to conduct offensive biowarfare DEVELOPMENT research. American scientists such as those working at Fort Detrick are authorized to conduct research with biowarfare pathogens only for defensive purposes. Each of the labs reports that their research is defensive and/or focused on development of new vaccines, antibiotics, antivirals, and other therapeutics and diagnostic tests. Each of the labs reports developing modeling systems such as aerosolizing small amounts of pathogens in sealed biosafety cabinets in order to test the efficacy of countermeasures and treatments. However, "weaponized" agents may be present in some research laboratories at Fort Detrick. The National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center (NBACC) at Fort Detrick may receive evidence from a bio-crime or terrorist attack including ‘weaponized’ microbes /pathogens, and conduct diagnostic tests to detect the microbes, or in the pursuit of medicines and vaccines. The Army lab (US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease, or USAMRIID), reports that none of the research they do is classified at this time. The Homeland Security Lab (NBACC) reports that 10 to 15% of its research is classified, as of December 2011. Two private Biosafety level 3 research laboratories in Frederick County are involved in research and development of pharmaceutical drugs (vaccines and treatments) work on non-classified research with select agents (see “What is a select agent?”). Information about these laboratories is not open to the public for security reasons, as specified in the Maryland Biological Agent Registry regulations. Private BSL-3 laboratories may be protected by various laws around trade secrets and patent laws but are still subject to Federal and State regulations regarding safe handling of infectious diseases, registration of workers with access to dangerous microbes, and inspection of their facilities by Federal agencies (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, or CDC, and the US Department of Agriculture, or USDA). Source: Textbook of Military Medicine: Part 1, Medical Aspects of Chemical and Biological Warfare. Office of The Surgeon General, Department of the Army, USA. Zajtchuk R, Bellamy RF, (Eds.) 1997.
Textbook of Military Medicine: Part 1, Medical Aspects of Biological Warfare. Office of The Surgeon General, Department of the Army, USA. Lenhart M, Lounsbury DE, Martin JW (Eds.) 2007.
For a summary of the history of biowarfare and bioterrorism, a good online resource includes the Arizona Department of Health Services’ Bureau of Emergency Preparedness and Response at the link below:
Maryland Biological Agent Registry regulations: http://dhmh.maryland.gov/labs/html/emergency_prep.html