Experts question the creation of weaponized H5N1
Much of the controversy has centered on whether or not the research should be published, but some scientists are now asking if it was responsible have created such pathogens at all, according to The-Scientist.com.
"Why should our tax dollars be used to create new pandemic pathogens?" Richard Ebright, a chemical biologist at Rutgers University, said, The-Scientist.com reports.
The bird flu experiments were conducted originally in two separate experiments, one at Erasmus University in the Netherlands and the other at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. Both teams created a strain of H5N1 influenza that can be transmitted through the air.
Soon after the results of the experiments were announced, the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity, a U.S. government advisory committee, asked that certain details be censored in their publication.
Randall Larsen, the former executive director of the Congressional Commission on the Prevention of Weapons Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism, said that keeping the details under wraps will only work for so long in their era of Wikileaks and online posting.
"The genie is already out of the bottle," Larsen said, The-Scientist.com reports.
There appears to be little agreement on what research concerning pathogen virulence should be tabled. David Relman, an infectious diseases specialist and microbiologist who was part of the working group that favored censoring the data, recently said that it depends entirely on the pathogen being studied and the research being conducted.
"We need to come to a mutually agreed upon process for deciding what work even deserves this type of more careful scrutiny," Relman said, according to The-Scientist.com.