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Costa Seeks Legislation to Prevent Reedley Lab Repeat
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By David Taub, Senior Reporter
Published 1 month ago on
April 23, 2024

Rep. Jim Costa is proposing legislation to prevent another Reedley biolab situation. (GV Wire Composite/Paul Marshall)

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Wanting to prevent another biolab operating nearly undetected, Congressmember Jim Costa is proposing legislation that would “address gaps” in federal law when it comes to reporting and notificaiton.

In December 2022, a Reedley code enforcement agent serendipitously discovered an undercover biolab, allegedly connected to the Chinese government. In the following months, federal, state, and local agencies raided the lab.

Questions mounted of how a lab could operate in plain sight, where 1,000  lab mice, and vials containing infectious diseases were found. The inquiries reached the House Select Commitee on the Chinese Communist Party.

Costa, D-Fresno, now has a plan, proposing the Preventing Illegal Laboratories and Protecting Public Health Act of 2024. The bill, HR 8065, will be heard in the House Committee on Energy and Commerce at a yet-to-be-determined date.

“It became clear that changes were needed on the federal level to ensure public safety. This legislation is the first step to closing the gap in the regulation of labs and will prevent bad actors from taking advantage of the public health system. It creates tracking, better review of anyone working with infectious diseases and deeper cooperation between local, state, and federal agencies,” Costa said.

A Costa news release said the legislation would:

  • Require sellers of highly infectious agents to keep a logbook of all sales and maintain those records for at least five years, including identification of the purchaser(s).
  • Require regular evaluations of high-containment laboratories in the U.S. after designating a single federal official to lead the overview.
  • Requires a “Public Health and Biosecurity Team” to be a single point of contact for state and local agencies regarding laboratory biosafety and biosecurity questions.
  • Requires a feasibility study on establishing a database of biolabs that is accessible to state and local officials.

Supect Returns to Court Wednesday

Federal investigators arrested Jia Bei Zhu, also referred to in legal documents as David He, charging him with three counts — two counts of distribution of adulterated and misbranded medical devices; and one count of making a false statement.

Zhu, a Chinese national who also resided in Clovis and Las Vegas, operated Universal Meditech Inc, and Prestige Biotech Inc. Forced out of Fresno because of a fire, the labs resurfaced in nearby Reedley.

The federal government said the companies never gained approvals for making COVID test kits, but produced and sold them anyway.

The congressgional committee examining the lab reported that Zhu is a wanted fugitive from Canada who has an outstanding $330 million judgment against him for stealing intellectual property. Zhu’s attorney, Tony Capozzi, disputed those claims.

Zhu remains in custody. A bail review hearing is set for Wednesday in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Erica Grosjean.

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David Taub,
Senior Reporter
Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email

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