Citing Bioterrorism Fears, US Asks Journals to Censor Bird Flu Study

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

In an unprecedented move, the United States government has asked two scientific journals to redact details of biomedical experiments which it fears could be used by terrorists to create deadly viruses. Two labs in the U.S. and the Netherlands recently created easily transmittable versions of the A(H5N1) virus, which causes bird flu. Though bird flu is highly lethal, it is not easily contracted by humans. Scientists have long been concerned an easily transferable version of the virus could create one of the deadliest pandemics in history. 

The National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity has said conclusions could be published, but "experimental details and mutation data that would enable replication of the experiments." The panel cannot force the journals to censor the findings.

Ron Fouchier is the lead researcher for the team of Dutch scientists who successfully created one of the new strains of bird flu. He reacts to the panel's recommendation.

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Ron Fouchier

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