The Effective Prosecution of Possession of Biological Toxins and Agents Act of 2019 (S 744, 116th Congress) would explicitly prohibit the possession, transport, or sale of biological agents and toxins by individuals through amending 18 U.S.C. 175b, which refers to prohibitions related to biological weapons. The Act has two major functions, which are to:
- Define the Offense: The Act would define the offense as the shipping, transporting, possessing, or receiving a biological agent or toxin through interstate or foreign transactions.
- Define Biological Agent and Toxin: The Act would define both biological agents and toxins as those entities included in the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C 262a) and not exempted under 42 CFR 73.
The Public Health Service Act mandates that the Department of Health and Human Services retain a list of biological agents or toxins based on their effect on health, contagiousness, and degree of treatment availability. Currently, there are 67 select agents and toxins on this list. The Act would exempt clinical or diagnostic laboratories, and groups that use these agents for diagnosis or verification procedures, from the requirements set forth.