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On Appeal

Influenza researchers in the Netherlands are appealing a decision to require an export permit to publish research on the mammalian-transmissible H5N1 avian flu virus strains developed by Erasmus Medical Center researcher Ron Fouchier, reports the Nature News Blog.

Before Fouchier published his work last year in Science, the Dutch government required him to obtain a permit. While he did so, and was granted one, Erasmus lodged a complaint and argued that a permit was not required as basic research fell outside the scope of the European Union export control laws.

A district court, though, has rejected that idea, the Nature News Blog says. The court further "[affirmed] that the research had practical goals beyond basic research, and that its methodology was novel – and so did not qualify for exemption," the blog post says. "The court also argued that the need to prevent the proliferation of biological weapons outweighed the few weeks of delay necessary for government review of such papers."

Fouchier and Erasmus are appealing this recent decision.