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Biothreats see security firms expanding

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by Staff Writers
Edgewood, Md. (UPI) Feb 18, 2009
Growing perceptions of unknown threats to communities from biological terrorism and warfare have led to the rise of security businesses dealing with detection and prevention of harmful substances targeting individuals and societies.

The most noticeable increase in business involves firms that are marketing devices capable of detecting dangerous substances both in peacetime civilian environment and on the battlefield.

Smiths Detection, which has headquarters in Edgewood, Md., said it had begun global distribution of a screening kit that would be used as a first response wherever a threat of bioterrorism or warfare arose or was reported.

Smiths Detection said it had reached a worldwide distribution agreement with 20/20 BioResponse for its BioCheck suspicious powder screening test kits.

It said the partnership introduces a low-cost and effective biological threat assessment tool to areas that feel exposed to the dangers posed by unknown substances.

The company said the kit adds to its existing portfolio of other proven emergency and first response solutions that have been adopted by governments and corporations.

"This partnership reinforces our goal of becoming a total solutions provider for biological threat assessment," said Mal Maginnis, president of global military and emergency responders at Smiths Detection.

Despite numerous anthrax false alarms in recent months, in Canada, the United States and elsewhere, government officials and private sector decision-makers agree in published comments the risk is too great to ignore any available means of dealing with potential threats.

Maginnis said, "BioCheck complements our line of suspicious powders assessment technologies giving emergency responders a comprehensive suite to choose from for quick, efficient and accurate detection in suspicious powder incidents."

The company says BioCheck, which is patented, is an easy-to-use screening kit that combines a "best-in-class" protein assay with a pH test to rapidly assess suspicious powders representing potential biological threats.

It said emergency responder teams and government agencies worldwide have used the kits for more than seven years.

Jonathan Cohen, president and chief executive officer of 20/20 BioResponse, a division of 20/20 GeneSystems Inc., said Smiths Detection's full breadth of complementary technologies offered comprehensive solutions.

Smiths Detection has been marketing advanced security solutions in both civil and military markets, selling government-regulated technology products that identify explosives, chemical and biological agents, weapons and contraband. Smiths Detection is part of Smiths Group, which employs around 22,000 people in more than 50 countries.

Another major breakthrough is Morpho Detection's ruggedized hand-held trace detector for extreme environmental conditions and battlefield deployment.

Morpho Detection, Inc., a business of Safran group's Sagem Securite division, said the device would trace explosives, narcotics, chemical warfare agents and toxic industrial chemicals that could be used as weapons.

"The expanded detection capabilities of the ruggedized Hardened MobileTrace make it an especially valuable tool for field operations and investigations involving standard explosives, narcotics, chemical warfare substances and other toxic industrial chemicals," said Dennis Cooke, president and CEO of Morpho Detection, Inc.

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