Process Of Reviewing Controversial Experiments For Publication Must Be Streamlined In Future

“We can worry less that a newly created bird flu virus might kill tens or hundreds of millions of people if it escaped from the laboratory,” a New York Times editorial states. “But there is still some residual danger. And we remain appalled at the slipshod way in which this research was authorized despite its potential dangers to public health and national security,” the editorial continues. The editorial provides a recap of the controversy leading up to the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity’s recommendation to publish the studies in late March, and writes, “The board’s new verdict is not wholly reassuring.”

“Federal officials say they know they must do better in the future,” the editorial states, referencing a “recently issued … policy that will require all federally financed experiments with bird flu and other worrisome pathogens to be evaluated for risks and benefits before they start.” It continues, “The new policy will need to be monitored closely and buttressed with more detailed guidance to scientists and review groups on how to weigh the risks and benefits of experiments that might cause the greatest damage,” and concludes, “[G]overnment officials must ensure that, going forward, the process of approving such experiments works a lot more rationally” (4/21).

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