In June of 2009, a committee met at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to do a routine safety review of proposed research projects.
One of those projects involved genetically modifying flu viruses. And during the review, the committee brought up the idea of “dual-use” research. “Dual use” means legitimate scientific work that’s intended to advance science or medicine, but that also might be misused with the intent to do harm.
Now, nearly three years after that meeting, this flu research — along with similar work done in the Netherlands — has the science community in an uproar. Scientists, security experts, flu virologists and others are arguing over whether the details of experiments with lab-altered forms of bird flu can be made public, or whether that would amount to publishing the recipe for a superflu that could be used as a bioweapon.
Read (or listen to) complete story here:
Bird Flu Studies Getting Another Round Of Scrutiny By Panel : Shots – Health Blog : NPR.
Shortly before Thanksgiving science reporters and bloggers began buzzing about a newly created, genetically modified version of the deadly bird flu that could easily be transmitted between ferrets, which closely mimic the human response to flu.
“Locked up in the bowels of the medical faculty building here (Rotterdam, the Netherlands) and accessible to only a handful of scientists lies a man-made flu virus that could change world history if it were ever set free,” is the lead to a Nov. 23 Science magazine blog entry, which goes on to note that the “scientists believe it’s likely that the pathogen, if it emerged in nature or were released, would trigger an influenza pandemic, quite possibly with many millions of deaths.”
Although the bird flu has been decimating poultry flocks overseas since the 1990s, it rarely threatens humans. That’s because. . .
Biosecurity experts fear UW's bird flu findings could fall into wrong hands.