Meselson calls for stronger oversight of bioweapon research

Matthew Meselson, a Harvard professor and biodefense expert, spoke on the subject of increasing biological weapon oversight in Washington on Tuesday at an event hosted by the Federation of American Scientists.

Meselson called for improved international cooperation in monitoring diseases that come about in the lab or the wild. He said that such cooperation was the only way to protect the United States from biological threats as H5N1 bird flu and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, AOL Defense reports.

"We're protecting against a devastating epidemic that comes out of China and kills all the Americans," Meselson said, according to AOL Defense. "Infectious agents don't stop at frontiers, they don't have passports."

Meselson was a crusader of the 1975 Biological Weapons Convention and is an advocate for overseeing potentially dangerous research. He said that additional layers of oversight including compliance review groups and a score of permanent staffers to look at proposals, interview researchers and visit research sites should be employed to determine if a project is problematic or has dual-use potential. Meselson said that the goal should be to develop a harmonized procedure across all agencies that could be used as a model for updating the Biological Weapons Convention in 2016.

Meselson said that he doesn't want to stop research that could be dangerous, he simply wants to monitor it more effectively. In his opinion, it would be counterproductive to cripple research into topics that could be dangerous.

"You want to know about the things that are dangerous," Meselson said, according to AOL Defense.