National Security Council moves to have greater control over scientific studies
Under the NSC's guidance, the federal government plans to release guidelines for research grants that would allow agencies the power to restrict or delay publication of findings considered susceptible to use by enemy states or terrorists. The guidelines are expected to be issued in the next few weeks, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The potential for stricter guidelines is also increasing concerns that the red tape could slow the release of life saving scientific findings.
"If infectious disease research in this country becomes regulated beyond what is appropriate, the U.S. will not be able to provide the breakthroughs the rest of the world relies on, and public health will suffer," Yoshihiro Kawaoka, a professor of virology at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, said, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Kawaoka's research helped to set off the controversy after his work on the H5N1 bird flu. Security experts with the National Institutes of Health recommended a delay in publication of Kawaoka's research and the research of Ron Fouchier of the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, in December.
The NSC guidelines would apply to research that involves Tier 1 select agents, which includes toxins and pathogens that pose the most severe public health threats. H5N1 influenza is on the Tier 1 list for the Agriculture Department.