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WHO Issues Warning About Risks Of Research On Human Engineered Bird Flu

“The World Health Organization issued a stern warning on Friday to scientists who have engineered a highly pathogenic form of the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus, saying their work carries significant risks and must be tightly controlled,” Reuters reports (Kelland, 12/30). The agency “warned … that while such studies were important, they could have deadly consequences,” the New York Times writes (McNeil/Grady, 1/2).

The research, which found that only a few mutations would allow the virus to become airborne and thus, more lethal, “has led advisers to the United States government, which paid for the research, to urge that the details be kept secret and not published in scientific journals to prevent the work from being replicated by terrorists, hostile governments or rogue scientists,” the New York Times reports in another article (Grady/McNeil, 12/26). The New York Times also features an interview with public health policy expert Laurie Garrett, who discusses the “policy implications of the creation of a lethal form of bird flu” (Garrett, 1/2).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.