For the past few months, a debate has raged on the pros and cons of publishing research that could be used in a dangerous manner and, in particular, whether a paper on how to make the H5N1 flu transmissible in mammals should be published in its entirety or with certain parts redacted. Nature, this week, published the complete study. And now, the US government is seeking comment from university officials on how best to deal with such papers and studies in the future, reports ScienceInsider's David Malakoff. The government recently released rules for dual-use research requiring that federal agencies systematically review the potential risks of studies involving 15 high-risk pathogens and toxins like H5N1, Malakoff says. "The reviews are designed to reduce the risks associated with dual use research of concern that could be used for good or harm," he adds. "The policy also requires the funders, scientists, and institutions to work together to develop plans for mitigating risk, including possibly altering the research or withholding research results." Though the policy only applies to federal agencies at this time, the government is seeking to make it applicable at the university level.
Useful and Dangerous
May 03, 2012