Two new revolutions in biology—gain-of-function research and synthetic biology—are forcing policymakers to rethink current national and international surveillance and regulatory systems, and any resolution will require international buy-in since the threat entails all living organisms.
Medicines are increasingly the product of complex supply chains, introducing vulnerabilities to their reliability and safety. CFR Senior Fellow Laurie Garrett lays out how G8 and G20 nations can help to remedy the drug safety crisis.
Laurie Garrett, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, explores the lasting impact of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the anthrax attacks that followed on disaster preparedness and health policy in the United States. Garrett argues that "all our readiness response depends on well-funded police, well-funded fire departments, well-funded hospitals, well-funded public health infrastructures, and precisely the opposite is where we are going right now." Garrett cautions that U.S. preparedness for a major terrorist attack may be decreasing. "As budgets are being cut at the federal level, the state level, and the local level, we're actually less ready than we were in 2001," Garrett says.
Famine in the Horn of Africa underscores the problems of an international foreign aid community struggling to keep up with its commitments at a time of a falling dollar and rising food prices, says CFR's Laurie Garrett.
Missing from the body of literature about 9/11 and the anthrax scare that followed is a sense of what 2001 felt like for those that experienced the events in a very personal way. This bookbridges the divide and offers new insights into the period, presenting its profound implications for public health, mass psychology, governance, scientific integrity, social resilience and cohesion, criminal justice, and America's sense of itself.
With the UN meeting on AIDS funding this week, CFR's Laurie Garrett says the slow response to the AIDS epidemic was the single biggest failure in public health and argues the need to double funding for new treatments to stop the spread of the disease.
On the heels of the 30th anniversary since AIDS was recognized, the UN General Assembly will meet to discuss the next course of HIV/AIDS funding. CFR Senior Fellow for Global Health Laurie Garrett traces the initial failures to contain the spread of AIDS, and calls on international policymakers to adequately fund the combat of the deadly disease.
While many questions remain about the problems at Fukushima nuclear plant, comparisons with the 1986 Chernobyl incident suggest Japan's government is taking the right steps to mitigate radiation damage, says CFR's Laurie Garrett.
The White House's proposed budget for FY2012 tries to balance spending cuts with investment to boost competitiveness. CFR experts examine how well it handles deficit reduction, defense, foreign aid, and spurring innovation.
With food prices at historic levels, unrest is mounting around the world, particularly in import-dependent regions such as the Middle East. CFR's Laurie Garrett says to meet demand going forward, countries will need to enhance food production and efficiencies.
The ease and availability of global travel brings the threat of widespread contagion ever closer to reality. From time to time one of those diseases takes hold – bird flu, SARS and more recently, MERS, Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome. In a conversation with Dr. Norman Swan, host of Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Health Report, and Gareth Williams, professor of medicine at the University of Bristol, Laurie Garrett answers the question, "How much of a threat do such epidemics actually pose and how prepared are we for a plague?"
In a conversation with BBC Future at the Atlantic Meets the Pacific festival, Laurie Garrett discusses her fears that humanity is taking a lackluster approach to facing up to the problems of the future. From newly emerging diseases to lethal and drug-resistant strains of familiar plagues, Garrett believes people have become overly complacent about some of the biggest threats to life on Earth.
Laurie Garrett talks with Tavis Smiley on the Tavis Smiley Radio Show about her Foreign Affairs essay of the same title, which says the practice of synthetic biology holds great promise for humankind—it could lead to anything from cleaner water to a cure for cancer. But unchecked, it could also lead to Armageddon.
Map: Vaccine-Preventable Outbreaks
This interactive map visually plots diseases that are easily preventable by inexpensive and effective vaccines. The Global Health Program at the Council on Foreign Relations has been tracking news reports on these outbreaks since the fall of 2008.
More About Laurie Garrett
"I Heard the Sirens Scream: How Americans Responded to the 9/11 and Anthrax Attacks" was awarded both Gold (Science) and Silver (Current Affairs) medals in the national eLIT Awards competition in May 2012.