Friday, January 13, 2012

Research ... without scrutiny

We need to fix the holey biosafety net. NewScientist
13 January 2012
Research into lethal flu should not have got so far without scrutiny

PHYSICS lost its innocence on 16 July 1945, when researchers involved in the Manhattan Project witnessed the first detonation of an atomic bomb. Years later, Robert Oppenheimer recalled that he was haunted by a verse from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita: "I am become death, the destroyer of worlds."

Ron Fouchier and Yoshihiro Kawaoka haven't yet revealed their thoughts on learning that they had created flu viruses that could potentially kill tens of millions of people (see "One mistake away from a worldwide flu pandemic"). But with opinion divided on the wisdom of running the experiments, biology may have crossed a similar line.

The circumstances are very different, of course. Oppenheimer and his colleagues were trying to defeat tyranny. Fouchier and Kawaoka were motivated by a desire for knowledge that they argue will make the world safer.

The trouble is that in the wrong hands, or if handled carelessly, these viruses may be just as dangerous as a nuclear bomb. More....
The unspoken, unasked, perhaps unnoticed question with the gravest implication, is why didn't local "experts" see the clear risk -- the lunacy -- in the scientists' plans and stop them?

As if you can't can't guess why..... Such craziness won't stop as long as greedy madmen are at the helm.

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