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Some Important Information on Agraquest, The Company Searching The World For "Novel" Microorganisms


The 1998 web archive of the article, " Hunting for Microbes written by Ralph Sinbaldi (founding Vice President of AgraQuest)  further documents where Agraquest does it’s searching for the “novel” microorganism.  Quoting from this article:

"Our goal is to isolate 20,000 microbes by August 1996. AQ already has agreements to obtain a comparable number of microbes through outside collaborations. We have already established cooperative discovery efforts with several groups and are getting microbes from exotic locations like New Zealand, the Amazon and Mexico.” , “Soil is a good source of microbes and is one of our primary sources"  and "AQ is collaborating with Dr. Ted Molinski of the University of California, Davis in our search for marine microbes.”

Because Agraquest "brings in" or "receives" microorganisms (fungus, bacteria etc.)" from other countries that are not endemic to the United States (the constant presence within a given geographic area or population group area), the question is, what was in the workplace environment that David Bell worked in?  It is also in question whether the small laboratory of Agraquest at the Kennedy Place location had the proper bio safety levels as required by law.  How can an area that is zoned "residential" and "offices" be deemed the proper location for a biological laboratory where so many "unknown" microorganisms were?

Dr. Larry Rose, the author of "CalOSHA: Going Down the Tubes? and prior to his retirement was the senior Public Medical Officer (Chief of the Medical Unit) for the statewide Cal-OSHA enforcement program for 28 years is very clear in expressing his concerns on these issues in his interview by Steve Zeltzer on the May 2008 Labor on the Job Video Project, "Workers Comp, The Destruction Of Ca-OSHA/EPA And The Case of David Bell".

In this extremely compelling video concerning David Bell's workplace at Agraquest, Dr. Rose said among other things;

"First off, if you’re using pathogenic organisms that’s not exactly organic…. that’s a risk not only the environment, the workersbut also possibly the food Consumers as well.”

I’d like to inject here that the way they classify biosafety in labs is they classify it 1 through 4.  Say the most hazardous, say like anthrax would be a 4 so you have to have like space suits and total control. Now if these were pathogens he [David Bell] was working with it sounds that should rate very high in biosafety requirements.”

"If they’re [Agraquest] using potentially pathogenic microorganisms to spread on… you know, vast areas of the environment in relation to say, specific what they call pests the first thing you would have to determine if OSHA went in there… and what I can…. I’ll get the record but from what I can tell first thing they would’ve had to have was either a microbiologist or a Doctor, a public health Doctor to look at how pathogenic are these organisms. Are they as bad as, say Anthrax? Could they be? And then you have to determine do they have the proper level of bio safety? And then you don’t go and just look at the face velocity of a vertical lamenter flow hood… that’s nonsense! What you do is then you go back and you say, “you’ve got the wrong level”,  you cite them and you require them to get the right level of bio safety and the other thingsnot spread the agent around in the neighborhood and that would be the Approach…. and if they don’t have a Doctor at Cal/OSHA to do that or…. you know…. then … they’re going in blind.”

When you’re called in and a worker has possibly picked up a very serious infectious disease from the work Process, you don’t just go in and measure a face velocity and give a tag. You’ve gotta do someyou know real investigation. Go over all the medical records and you’ve got to get the Organism and submit it to the proper lab to determine it’s pathogenicity.  In other words, there’s a series of steps you would take because you’re not only trying to protect all the workers there now and future workers, but you also have to protect the community when you’re talking about an infectious disease, this is a serious public health matter."

"So, looking at what OSHA did, and I’m just astounded that they had that kind of very weak response, inappropriate response according to the law."

"The law states that you have to have to go through this kind of process and you certainly can’t fire a worker whose complaining."

"Also, OSHA should have responded within 72 hours, that’s required by law in this kind of.. you know, complaint. I don’t know what they Were doing, but they obviously handled the thing illegally.





Last Updated on Friday, 13 January 2012 21:22  

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