DDL records $296M after-tax profit

first_img– company preparing for oil production benefits The Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL) Group has raked in some $296 million taxed profits for the 2016 financial year.According to Chairman Komal Samaroo in the company’s 2016 Annual Report, the Group’s profit for the year before taxation was $2.920 billion, compared to $2.797 billion in 2015, thus reflecting an increase of $123 million, or almost 4.4 per cent. The after-tax profit was recorded at $2.191 billion, compared to $1.895 billion earned in 2015, representing a 16 per cent increase in profit.DDL Chairman Komal SamarooThe Chairman noted that an Interim Dividend of $0.16 per share was paid in December 2016. The Directors, he continued, have recommended a Final Dividend of $0.47 per share, which, if approved by members at the upcoming General Meeting set for April 7, would result in a total of $0.63 per share being paid for the year 2016.As it relates to the group’s subsidiaries, Distribution Services Limited (DSL) recorded a profit before tax of $358 million in 2016, as against $313 million in 2015. However, this increased profitability escaped the Demerara Shipping Company Limited (DSCL), which raked in a profit of $102 million in 2016, compared with $146 million in 2015. This decline, Samaroo explained, was as a result of the reduced volume of cargo handled by the lines represented by the shipping company.The profitability trend completely evaded Tropical Orchard Products Co Ltd (TOPCO), which experienced a loss of $16 million last year, whereas it had recorded a $20 million profit the previous year.“This was due primarily to the loss of the school feeding programme contract (which had already been awarded to an overseas company), a matter which TOPCO successfully contested at the Bids Protest Committee…TOPCO had to write off inventory totalling $21.2 million in packaging material and finished product,” the Chairman explained.He explained that the performance of the Group’s overseas subsidiaries had nevertheless made up for these losses by contributing $185 million in profit before taxation for 2016, compared with $172 million recorded in the previous year. The Demerara Distillers St Kitts Ltd recorded a profit of $25 million, Demerara Distillers USA Inc. recorded $41 million profit, Demerara Rum Company Ltd recorded $31 million profit, and the subsidiary in Europe recorded a profit of $88 million.According to the Chairman, notwithstanding the Group’s complete withdrawal from the commodity bulk rum market in 2016 and the consequent absence of any sales in that segment for the year, the Group’s overall revenue for 2016 increased, though marginally, over 2015 by $89 million, or 0.5 per cent.He added that increased sales from branded products and high-value bulk rum fully compensated for the sales foregone from the unprofitable commodity bulk rum segment, and noted that if the previous year’s revenue from the latter segment is omitted from the comparative results, the Group’s revenue would have increased by almost five per cent.Samaroo said the revenue garnered from international sales of branded and high-value bulk rum increased in 2016 by 9.5 per cent over what had been garnered the previous year, while domestic revenue also increased in 2016 by 2.5 per cent over what had been garnered in 2015.The DDL Chairman boasted about his company’s El Dorado brand, which continues to win accolades on the international market, once again being named in the ‘Top 10 Best Selling Rum Brands’ and the ‘Top 10 Trending Rum Brands’.He noted that the introduction of the Diamond Reserve brand in the regional and international markets in April last year was well received, adding that the company would continue to carefully promote and reinforce its market position in the value segment until it carves its niche in the rum market.Samaroo asserted that the launch of the ultra-premium limited edition – the 50-Year-Old Rum – strengthened the positioning of the El Dorado Rum in the high end of the market. Additionally, in the latter part of 2016, the company launched the limited El Dorado Rum Creme Liqueur in Butter Pecan, and successfully launched the Diamond Splash Cranberry Water and Soca Ginger Ale.Going forward, the Chairman outlined, uncertainty in the global business environment presents a major challenge, which is compounded by intensified regulatory pressures locally. He nevertheless noted that the Group stands both well prepared and positioned to expand the global footprint of its rum brands, and continue its growth in this vital segment of its business.Samaroo said Guyana’s economic outlook has been improved with the announcement of significant petro-carbon deposits offshore. To this end, the DDL Group would be expanding its several businesses to take full advantage of the opportunities that may arise from improvement in the domestic economy.“Notwithstanding the predicted uncertainties ahead, the Group remains well poised for continued growth as well as revenue and profitability expansion in the foreseeable future,” the Chairman noted. He noted, too, that presentation of the 2017 National Budget last year was welcomed, adding that such a move allows for more effective and improved business planning for the year.In this regard, he expressed hope that such a move to make the national economic environment more predictable, which is important to attract more investments, will be followed by an equally timely National Development Strategy and/or a National Development Plan, so that companies can align their business strategies with national policies.last_img read more

Petronas could be selling their stake in Pacific NorthWest LNG: sources

first_imgKUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA – According to three unnamed sources familiar with the matter, Malaysian state oil firm Petronas is considering selling its majority stake in Pacific NorthWest LNG.In an article from The Financial Post and Reuters, Petronas is said to be weighing options for the project after crude oil prices have fallen more than 50 percent since the middle of 2014, which has hit the company’s profits and prompted cuts to capital expenditure and jobs. The economics of the project, which has taken three years to get approved due to environment concerns have been called into question as the price of natural gas has also dropped more than 70 per cent since 2014.Petronas was given the go-ahead for the project by the federal government earlier this week. The company stated after Tuesday’s approval that executives would study the project’s 190 conditions and conduct a review before deciding on what to do next. When asked about the potential sale today, Petronas said that it will not provide any additional comment.- Advertisement -The sources said Petronas has been considering a sale for months, after it became apparent that a Canadian approval was possible, but had yet to take a final decision. Other options are also being considered, including putting it on ice.“They are going to be looking at gas prices, costs and returns before they make the final decision,” said one of the sources. “It is a very tough call.”Petronas signed on for the project in 2012 through the acquisition of Progress Energy.Advertisement Article courtesy The Financial Post/Reuters: http://business.financialpost.com/news/energy/petronas-weighs-sale-to-exit-27-billion-canadian-lng-project-sources-say?__lsa=e709-5cc6.last_img read more

Calamigos taking over Dakota’s Steakhouse on ranch expansion site

first_imgSIMI VALLEY – The Calamigos Ranch banquet facility is expanding into the hilltop site in Simi Valley that has been occupied by Dakota’s Steakhouse for nearly a decade. Flemming Larsen, owner of Dakota’s, said Calamigos is taking over the lease for the next 25 years. Dakota’s had two years left on the deal. “They made us an offer we couldn’t refuse,” he said. Glen Gerson, the son of Calamigos Ranch founder Grant Gerson, confirmed the sale but declined to comment. The sprawling ranch in the mountains overlooking Malibu plays host to weddings, banquets, conferences and company picnics. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREOregon Ducks football players get stuck on Disney ride during Rose Bowl eventLast year, Larsen announced Dakota’s would be relocating to the Simi Valley Town Center, and the previous location would be converted into a catering and banquet facility. Instead, he plans to concentrate on expanding his restaurant business, which includes breaking ground on a Westlake Village steakhouse. “We’re a steakhouse, not a banquet facility,” Larsen said. “We’re focusing more on the restaurant part.” Dakota’s opened in 1997 at a prominent location at the east end of town at 2525 Stowe St., on top of a hill visible from the Ronald Reagan Freeway. It moved to the mall in December. “It’s bittersweet,” Larsen said. “At the same time, they are phenomenal people with vision,” he said of Calamigos officials. Simi Valley City Councilman Glen Becerra said the city could use a banquet and conference center. “It will work out very well if done correctly,” he said. “I expect to see something nice and high-end.” angie.valencia@dailynews.com (805) 583-7604160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

Gator, python in fatal clash

first_imgMIAMI (AP) – The alligator has some foreign competition at the top of the Everglades food chain, and the results of the struggle are horror-movie messy. A 13-foot Burmese python recently burst after it apparently tried to swallow a live, six-foot alligator whole, authorities said. The incident has heightened biologists’ fears that the nonnative snakes could threaten a host of other animal species in the Everglades. “It means nothing in the Everglades is safe from pythons, a top-down predator,” said Frank Mazzotti, a University of Florida wildlife professor. Over the years, many pythons have been abandoned in the Everglades by pet owners. The gory evidence of the latest gator-python encounter – the fourth documented in the past three years – was discovered and photographed last week by a helicopter pilot and wildlife researcher. The snake was found with the gator’s hindquarters protruding from its midsection. Mazzotti said the alligator may have clawed at the python’s stomach as the snake tried to digest it. In previous incidents, the alligator won or the battle was an apparent draw. “There had been some hope that alligators can control Burmese pythons,” Mazzotti said. “This indicates to me it’s going to be an even draw. Sometimes alligators are going to win and sometimes the python will win.” It is unknown how many pythons are competing with the thousands of alligators in the Everglades, but at least 150 have been captured in the past two years, said Joe Wasilewski, a wildlife biologist and crocodile tracker. Pythons could threaten many smaller species that conservationists are trying to protect, including other reptiles, otters, squirrels, woodstorks and sparrows, Mazzotti said. Wasilewski said a 10- or 20-foot python also could pose a risk to an unwary human, especially a child. He added, however, “I don’t think this is an imminent threat. This is not a ‘Be afraid, be very afraid’ situation.’” AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

The stars come out to educate Warriors’ Stephen Curry on moon landings

first_imgIt was as predictable as the moonrise.Stephen Curry’s thoughts about men on the moon, dispensed in a recent podcast, had barely hit the ether when reaction began rolling in.Astronaut Scott Kelly, a veteran of four space flights and who set a record for accumulated number of days spent in space, was one of the first to check in.Steph, so much respect for you, but re the moon landing thing, let’s talk. DM me. https://t.co/BXYxPF4zz1 — Scott Kelly (@StationCDRKelly) December 11, …last_img read more

Opening up SA’s heritage

first_imgThe eye-catching Open SA! logo. (Image: Open SA!) Documents such as this 1949 immigration form belonging to a Dutch immigrant, are an important part of South Africa’s history. (Image: Wikimedia)Janine ErasmusA new project titled Open SA! aims to make South African historical and cultural material widely accessible, by allowing ordinary people as well as professionals to share their heritage online and make it available for republishing and remixing, for the benefit of all.“We believe that getting ordinary people involved in sharing their history on the internet with artists, historians, students and researchers is a great way to keep local history alive and accessible,” said the Open SA! team in a statement.The Open SA! project is an initiative of popular positive-themed blog SA Rocks and the African Commons Project, a Johannesburg-based non-profit organisation that works to empower communities towards innovation, creativity and wisdom through the internet and other new technologies.African Commons is working closely with the Alexandria Archive Institute, which is building a collection of open access, internet-based resources for archaeology and world history.Using the principle of public domain – those works that the public may copy, adapt and share without limitation – Open SA! gathers, tags and manages relevant submissions from contributors from all facets of society, and makes them freely available online.The Open SA! team has another mission, and that is to reach out to young creative voices in South Africa, with a view to teaching them how to find open content that they may freely and legally adapt and share.Finally, for those whose material needs to be digitised first, Open SA! plans to arrange digitisation drives, with the help of volunteers, to transfer collections into the correct format.Shared heritageSouth Africa’s national Department of Arts and Culture, the custodian of the country’s rich and diverse heritage, has long held that shared heritage is an important tool in social cohesion and nation building.The Encyclopaedia of South African Arts and Culture, currently in beta testing, defines nation-building as the fostering of a sense of pride and knowledge in all aspects of South African culture, heritage and the arts.An additional aspect of nation building is the encouragement of mutual respect and tolerance and inter-cultural exchange between various cultures and art disciplines, which in turn facilitates the emergence of a shared cultural identity based on diversity.  Open SA! takes advantage of new developments and publishing platforms, such as blogging and citizen journalism, and online publishing of photographs, videos and music, which it views as vital components of a new form of democratic speech. This, it says, should be nurtured, and one of the best ways to do that is to provide easy access to quality resources and materials.Citing examples such as the speech former president Nelson Mandela delivered on his release from prison in 1990, or his successor Thabo Mbeki’s rousing “I am an African” speech, the Open SA! project says that these priceless resources should be available to more than just the professional journalists, filmmakers and researchers who were traditionally authorised to re-publish them.To this end, the public is encouraged to submit their material or material belonging to friends or family, provided that contributors either own the copyright to the materials or have written permission from the copyright holder.Leading the field One of the first contributors to Open SA! is new media specialist and photographer Gregor Rohrig, who has made available a classy selection of his photos taken around Johannesburg.All photos are licensed under the Creative Commons concept and may freely be shared and remixed, provided that proper attribution is given, images are used for non-commercial purposes, and any adaptation of the works is distributed under the same or a similar licence. These conditions may be waived with permission from Rohrig.Commenting on the wealth of historical and cultural material held by South Africans, Rohrig asked, “What good are these materials if they cannot be used and reused creatively?”The talented photographer expects the local creative industry to be even more inspired and encouraged with the unlocking of local resources that have previously been inaccessible.Do you have queries or comments about this article? Email Janine Erasmus at janinee@bigmedia.co.za.Useful linksOpen SA!Open SA! photo collection on FlickrDepartment of Arts and CultureEncyclopaedia of South African Arts and Culture (beta)SA RocksAfrican Commons ProjectGregor RohrigAlexandria Archive Institutelast_img read more

Google+ Update Aims To Raise The Profile Of Web Writers

first_imgFacebook is Becoming Less Personal and More Pro… selena larson Tags:#Embedded Posts#Google#wordpress Google+ launched two new features it said will help writers and other publishers get more attention on Google News and search. WordPress and TypePad powered blogs using Google+ Sign-In will now link all posts to the author’s Google+ account. The author’s name and information will appear in Google News and search results, thus increasing distribution and discovery, as well as making it easier for readers to engage with the author.Following the lead of Twitter and Facebook, Google+ also now allows publishers to embed public G+ updates in blog posts and on other websites. Users can follow the original update’s author and comment on or +1 the post as they would on the Google+ stream. Google claims this feature will tie conversations together, as comments will also appear wherever the post is embedded.The features are only available to WordPress and TypePad users, but Google is experimenting with other platforms including About.com, WikiHow, SkillPages and Examiner.com. It announced the updates at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference today. A Comprehensive Guide to a Content Auditcenter_img Guide to Performing Bulk Email Verification Related Posts The Dos and Don’ts of Brand Awareness Videoslast_img read more

How I Know Your Deal Is Going to Push

first_img Essential Reading! Get my first book: The Only Sale Guide You’ll Ever Need “The USA Today bestseller by the star sales speaker and author of The Sales Blog that reveals how all salespeople can attain huge sales success through strategies backed by extensive research and experience.” Buy Now Inevitably, some of your deals are going to push. Blame it on the non-linearity of the sales process in practice (as opposed to the theoretical sales process that moves smoothly from target to execution without so much as a pause or a backward step). Place the blame where you like, here is how I know your deal is going to push.It’s Not the Client’s Date: Here it is in the very first spot. Your client did not provide you with a date by which they would like to begin executing your solution. You chose the date, or more accurately, entered some random sequence of numbers into your CRM. If I were to call your client now and tell them you intend to show up with a contract next Tuesday, as per your entry, would they be surprised? Would you be concerned about me making that call? Where there is no commitment to a start date, your deal is going to push.No Commitment to Change: If there is one of the ten commitments in The Lost Art of Closing (my second book), it is the Commitment to Change. You can have a whole bunch of meetings that feel just like the meetings you would have if you were pursuing a deal with-out there being a deal. People will have a meeting with you, explore change, and review your proposal and pricing without ever having made the commitment to change. If you haven’t asked them if they are committed to changing, your deal is going to push (or more likely, it will die).A Pattern of Unkept Commitments: If you want to know if your client intends to keep their commitments, look at their track record. Have they kept all of the commitments that they have made up until this point? Or have they made commitments without keeping them and instead caused you to give chase over voicemail and email? If they haven’t kept commitments up until now, why would they start with the Commitment to Decide?You Don’t Know Who Is Deciding: If you don’t know who is actually making the decision, then your deal is extremely likely to push. If your contact is going to present to their leadership team on your behalf, a leadership team that has never met you, look for the push. If you don’t know who can say yes, it’s a push.You Missed Commitments: There are 10 commitments you need in a sale, especially a B2B sale. You can find them all here, and if you want a deeper dive, you can pick up the book at www.thelostartofclosing.com. For example, if you skipped building consensus or resolving concerns, you left major openings for bad things to happen, the kind of things that end in a deal being pushed.There are so many factors outside of your control that could cause your deal to push, you need to make sure that you do everything that is in your control to ensure that it doesn’t.last_img read more

Coastal Odisha receives widespread rains due to deep depression

first_imgThe Odisha government on Friday directed the district administrations to stay alert and respond to emergency situations in view of the heavy rain which is likely to lash the State under the influence of a deep depression over the central Bay of Bengal.Widespread rain started from early Friday morning with the atmospheric system moving north-northwestwards at a speed of about 33 kmph. The deep depression lay centered about 510 km south-southeast of Gopalpur, said a bulletin of the Bhubaneswar Meteorological Centre.“It is likely to maintain intensity of a deep depression for about 12 hours and weaken gradually into a depression during the subsequent 12 hours. The system is very likely to move north-northwestwards and reach north Andhra Pradesh and south Odisha coasts around Saturday morning as a depression,” it said.Rain or thundershower is likely to take place at most places in the coastal and many places in the interior districts of Odisha during the next 48 hours, it said.Squally winds with speed reaching 45-55 kmph gusting to 65 kmph is likely to prevail along and off the Odisha coast up to December 10. Sea condition would be rough to very rough along and off the coast during the period.Bhubaneswar Meteorological Centre director S. C. Sahu, however said the rain would not be very heavy due to the chillness in the air. “Light to moderate rain would prevail in most parts of the State during the next 48 hours,” said Mr. Sahu.Meanwhile, two farmers died in Berhampur district during their hurried effort to save their standing paddy crop. Narayan Dash,18, of Baulagaon village under Chatrapur police station limits, was bitten by a poisonous snake on Thursday night, while he and his father Bhagaban Dash were transporting paddy crop from the field to their home. The youth breathed his last in MKCG Medical College and Hospital in Berhampur on Friday.The other victim was Maheswar Swain,50, of Dehuka village under Buguda police station limits. According to police sources, he was killed while he was trying to transport a paddy thrasher machine from one of his fields to the other. The paddy thrasher fell on him killing him on the spot.last_img read more

U.S. asks universities to flag risky pathogen experiments

first_imgAcademic scientists with federal funding who work with any of 15 dangerous microbes or toxins will soon have to flag specific studies that could potentially be used to cause harm and work with their institutions to reduce risks, according to new U.S. government rules released today.The long-awaited final rule is similar to a February 2013 draft and is “about what we expected,” says Carrie Wolinetz, a deputy director of federal relations at the Association of American Universities (AAU) in Washington, D.C., which represents more than 60 major research universities. Those schools see the rules as replicating other federal security and safety rules, Wolinetz says, but will adjust to them.But some observers have concerns, such as that the rules do not apply to other risky biological agents. In a conference call with reporters today, a White House official said the government is open to a “broader discussion” about whether it should expand the list of 15 regulated agents.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)The rules are the latest in a flurry of regulations that grew out of the 2001 anthrax attacks and govern experiments that could potentially be used as bioterrorism weapons. Experts identified seven types of experiments that represent so-called dual use research of concern (DURC)—such as making an agent more transmissible or resistant to drugs. In March 2012, federal agencies announced that they would give special scrutiny to such DURC experiments with 15 dangerous agents or toxins; the 15 agents are part of a broader federal list of regulated “select agents” that pose particular risks to public health.In February 2013, the government released a draft of a follow-on regulation that would require scientists and universities also to screen studies for DURC. And in the wake of controversial experiments that involved making H5N1 bird flu more transmissible among mammals, the government added separate regulations specifically for H5N1 and studies with another bird flu virus, H7N9.Today’s institutional regulations are “an additional and important component” of an overall framework, said Andrew Hebbeler, assistant director for biological and chemical threats in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). The rules, which cover institutions receiving federal funding for life sciences research, add a “grassroots approach,” he said. They will require that scientists working with any of the 15 agents who think their work may fall under the DURC definition notify a special review committee within their institution. If this committee agrees the research is DURC, it must notify the funding agency and develop a risk mitigation plan. Institutions can lose federal funding if they do not comply.The policy includes tight deadlines—30 days for the institutional committee to notify the funding agency that it has identified a DURC experiment, and 90 days to submit the mitigation plan. In response to some of the 38 comments it received on the draft policy, OSTP made some revisions to the process, Hebbeler said. For example, institutions do not have to review proposals that haven’t yet gone through peer review; the institution only needs to show the funding agency that it has a DURC review process in place.The new rules will take effect a year from now; institutions will need to submit progress reports for ongoing studies. Federal reviews since 2012 have found that of perhaps a “couple hundred” studies involving the 15 agents, “only a handful” met the DURC definition, said Amy Patterson, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) associate director for biosecurity and biosafety policy, on the press call. Scientists and institutions will need help figuring out whether research meets the DURC definition, she added: “This is clearly a learning curve.” NIH is releasing a guidebook and preparing other “tools,” such as case studies and workshops, she said.AAU’s Wolinetz said institutions have been readying for the final policy, either by adding new duties to existing biosafety review committees or setting up separate DURC review panels. Her group’s concern is that the policy overlaps with existing regulations, including voluminous safety and security rules for working with select agents. The new rule “is unnecessary in a lot of ways,” she says.Others see the new rules as inadequate. Molecular biologist Richard Ebright of Rutgers University, New Brunswick, a persistent critic of U.S. biodefense research, says the rules don’t require “a bona fide risk-benefit analysis,” which would require weighing risks and benefits, not just identifying them. He’s also concerned because the rules do not cover institutions that don’t receive federal funding for life sciences (although they are covered by select agent rules). And the list of 15 agents does not include some problematic pathogens, such as the viruses that cause SARS and MERS. Those are “glaring omissions,” Ebright says. Hebbeler said OSTP hopes for “an active dialogue with the community” about whether the list should be expanded.The new rules are also unlikely to assuage concerns about so-called gain-of-function studies that make flu strains such as H5N1 more transmissible or lethal. Concerns have escalated in recent months following new publications and several accidents in federal biocontainment labs. Hebbeler said “we are actively discussing” those controversial studies and that the risks and benefits will be on the agenda at a 22 October meeting of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity, which has not met in nearly 2 years. He declined to comment on whether the government will order a pause in such studies.last_img read more