Too late to contain killer flu science, say experts
Attempts to censor details of controversial influenza experiments that created a highly infectious form of bird-flu virus are unlikely to stop the information from leaking out, according to scientists familiar with the research.
The US Government has asked the editors of two scientific journals to refrain from publishing key parts of research on the H5N1 strain of bird-flu in order to prevent the information falling into the hands of terrorists intent on recreating the same flu strain for use as a bioweapon.
However, scientists yesterday condemned the move. Some said that the decision comes too late because the information has already been shared widely among flu researchers, while others argued that the move could obstruct attempts to find new vaccines and drugs against an infectious form of human H5N1 if it appeared naturally.
Professor Richard Ebright, a molecular biologist at Rutgers University in Piscataway, New Jersey, said that the research, which was funded by the US Government, should never have been done without first assessing the risks and benefits.
“The work posed risks that outweighed benefits and that were clearly foreseeable before the work was performed,” Professor Ebright said.
READ THE REST AT THE INDEPENDENT
And then consider this from Francis Boyle:
Biological Weapons Convention Conference Issues Final Document
“The Conference emphasizes that States must take all necessary safety and security measures to protect human populations and the environment, including animals and plants, when carrying out destruction and/or diversion of agents, toxins, weapons, equipment or means of delivery as prohibited by Article 1 of the Convention.”
This language from the Final Communiqué is truly bizarre. Under the terms of the BWC, those “agents, toxins, weapons, equipment or means of delivery” should not be there in the first in order to be “destroyed” or “diverted.” And where are they being “diverted”: to whom and by whom? The implications of this language is (1) that BWC contracting parties currently have “agents, toxins, weapons, equipment or means of delivery as prohibited by Article 1 of the Convention” and (2) that they are diverting them somewhere, which is also prohibited by the BWC.
Of course you can read this language to apply only to non-BWC States. But there are 165 BWC States Parties and 12 signatories. The only militarily significant hold outs are in the Middle East, for well known reasons that I will not go into here.