Biosecurity experts have argued that the methods we have used represent a recipe to create biological weapons and that information about the specific mutations that determine transmission of H5N1 virus could also be misused for this purpose. However, it is important to emphasize that we did not develop novel methods and that we only used information and methods that are available freely from the scientific literature. The logic in this work is sufficiently obvious that virologists could perform experiments similar to ours even if our method is not published.The World Health Organization has called a meeting next week to discuss the disclosure of "dual-use" research. "Dual-use" research is research having a legitimate scientific purpose, but which can be misused for harmful purposes. In the USA, the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB), a government body, advises on dual-use research and how it should be handled.
[H]alting dissemination after the research has been completed, especially after partial details have been announced at meetings, is not only too late, but it goes against the principles of transparency and collaboration. Now so much is already known by so many, surely the best way to limit the potential harm is to make the full details and the full risks known to as many as possible so that work to address threats can begin.Bonus Links: The World Health Organization's April 2011 update on H5N1 (Bird Flu).
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