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Reuters Examines Upcoming WHO Meeting To Discuss Debate Over Bird Flu Research

Bird flu experts are scheduled to begin a two-day meeting at the WHO in Geneva on Thursday “to try to settle an unprecedented row over a call to [censor] publication of two scientific studies which detail how to mutate H5N1 bird flu viruses into a form that could cause a deadly human pandemic,” Reuters reports in an article describing the debate in detail. “But experts say whatever the outcome, no amount of censorship, global regulation or shutting down of research projects could stop rogue scientists getting the tools to create and release a pandemic H5N1 virus if they were intent on evil,” the news service adds.

“The WHO has invited 22 people to this week’s meeting, including the researchers who carried out the work, editors of the two journals, Science and Nature, who were asked to hold publication, and representatives from the U.S. National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) which asked for the papers to be censored,” Reuters notes (Kelland/Nebehay, 2/14).