Peters and Paul Announce Bipartisan Biodefense and Life Science Research Investigation

WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Rand Paul (R-KY), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, announced a joint investigation of national security threats posed by high-risk biological research and technology in the U.S. and abroad. Peters and Paul plan to hold hearings and conduct government-wide oversight on areas including high-risk life science research, biodefense, synthetic biology, biosafety and biosecurity lapses, early warning capabilities for emerging outbreaks or possible attacks, and potential origins of the COVID-19 pandemic. This bipartisan oversight effort will assess and identify measures to mitigate longstanding and emerging risks and threats that may result in serious biological incidents – whether deliberate, accidental, or natural. The investigation will also seek to increase transparency and strengthen oversight of taxpayer-funded life sciences research, laboratories in the U.S. and abroad, and detection of biological threats.   

“Biotechnologies, such as CRISPR, are rapidly advancing, and our understanding of biological risks and threats is constantly evolving. While many of these advancements have the potential to greatly benefit Americans, we must also ensure we are addressing and minimizing the serious risks they can also pose to our health and national security,” said Senator Peters.“This bipartisan oversight effort will allow us to take a comprehensive look at whether the federal government is taking the necessary steps to keep Americans safe from current and future biological threats.”  

“It is well past time for the Senate to conduct a bipartisan inquiry into the origins of COVID-19, and, as part of this investigation, we finally will be holding Committee hearings to do just that,” said Ranking Member Paul.“In order to prevent a more catastrophic pandemic from occurring, we must understand the nature of US-funded biotechnology and hold accountable those who engage in risky gain-of-function research. This investigation is groundbreaking, marking the first government-wide examination of taxpayer-funded, high-risk life science research. I’ve been banging on the doors of federal agencies for the past three years, relentlessly seeking information on COVID-19, but it’s been nothing short of a wild goose chase. To prevent repeating past mistakes, it’s crucial we fully comprehend the dangers of engaging in potentially hazardous bioresearch. This involves shining a spotlight on the gaping holes in oversight throughout the federal research processes and procedures.”