The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have designated certain biological agents and toxins as Select Agents, because they have the potential to pose a severe threat to public, animal or plant health, or to animal or plant products. The Federal Select Agent Program oversees registration and approval to receive, posses, or transfer Select Agents.


  • The 1996 Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act first regulated the transfer of Select Agents between persons and institutions. 
  • The 2001 USA Patriot Act prohibits certain individuals from shipping, transporting, or possessing a Select Agent.
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) regulates Select Agents targeting public health (42 CFR 73). 
  • The USDA regulates Select Agents targeting agriculture, animal, and animal products (7 CFR 331 and 9 CFR 121). 
  • Select Agents regulated by both HHS and USDA are called “overlap” Select Agents. 


  • Currently, no research activities involving Select Agents are authorized at Mississippi State University. Please reach out to the EH&S Biological Safety Officer (662-325-0620) if you seek to initiate Select Agent research. 
  • Immediately contact EH&S Biological Safety Officer (662-325-0620) or the IBC Chair if you discover a Select Agent in your lab.
  • Please visit the U.S. Government's "Federal Select Agent Program" website for a complete list of Select Agents and Toxins and exclusions.