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Synthetic DNA makers warned of bioterrorism threats

To make it harder for bioterrorists to build dangerous viruses from scratch, guidelines for firms who supply "custom DNA" are being introduced in the US.

The US and other countries restrict who can work with certain germs, but it might be possible to build some viruses from their genes. A number of firms supply DNA sequences to order. A 2005 investigation by New Scientist raised alarms when it found that only five out of 12 of these firms in North America and Europe always screened orders for sequences that might be used in bioweapons.

The US now wants firms to verify a customer's identity and make sure they are not on a list of banned buyers. It also wants them to screen orders for sequences that are unique to Select Agents, a list of microbes the US deems dangerous.
 
 

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