(Image Source: Wikimedia Commons)

BY GINA COOK

ANCHOR NATHAN BYRNE


After two months of debate, the details of two controversial bird flu experiments will be published. The experiments are the first to make the deadly H5N1 virus transmissible between mammals.


The New York Times quotes the scientist who represented the U.S. during the discussion. He says there was good reason for deciding to allow the experiments to be fully published.


“The group consensus was that it was much more important to get this information to scientists in an easy way to allow them to work on the problem for the good of public health. It was not unanimous, but a very strong consensus.”



This decision was made despite advice given from the U.S.'s top biosecurity panel, who asked the virologists not to publish the research in detail a few weeks ago.


“There’s a concern that viruses could be purposely misused by a group or could be purposely created to cause trouble.”


Seattle’s KOMO discusses the science behind the controversy.



Reporter: “Scientists here engineered the new virus by manipulating just a few genes so they could better understand human-to-human transmission.  Something that nature can easily do on its own.”


And although the point of the meeting in Geneva was to open the issue, a writer for The Atlantic says the public was shut out of discussion and “regular citizens” couldn’t weigh in. She writes…



“Of course, in almost every other case, I believe in scientific freedom. But the issue here is not free speech and thought. It's a debate about risk. In this case, the risk posed by noodling with the super-bird-flu is so extreme that it affects all of us. Are you willing to bet your life on this research?”

 


But a writer for The Huffington Post says it’s the use of scare tactics that harm the public.



“I am disturbed that so much coverage of this dispute -- so deserving of sober consideration -- is fixated on fear mongering....Admittedly, the debate in the academy and their professional learned societies involve detailed and complex evaluations of real and potential risks and benefits that do not fit into 30-second soundbites on television or pithy opinion pieces.”
 


The journals Science and Nature were expected to publish an edited version of the experiments, but no word yet when the full studies will be published.

Controversial Bird Flu Research to be Published

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Feb 19, 2012

Controversial Bird Flu Research to be Published

(Image Source: Wikimedia Commons)

BY GINA COOK

ANCHOR NATHAN BYRNE


After two months of debate, the details of two controversial bird flu experiments will be published. The experiments are the first to make the deadly H5N1 virus transmissible between mammals.


The New York Times quotes the scientist who represented the U.S. during the discussion. He says there was good reason for deciding to allow the experiments to be fully published.


“The group consensus was that it was much more important to get this information to scientists in an easy way to allow them to work on the problem for the good of public health. It was not unanimous, but a very strong consensus.”



This decision was made despite advice given from the U.S.'s top biosecurity panel, who asked the virologists not to publish the research in detail a few weeks ago.


“There’s a concern that viruses could be purposely misused by a group or could be purposely created to cause trouble.”


Seattle’s KOMO discusses the science behind the controversy.



Reporter: “Scientists here engineered the new virus by manipulating just a few genes so they could better understand human-to-human transmission.  Something that nature can easily do on its own.”


And although the point of the meeting in Geneva was to open the issue, a writer for The Atlantic says the public was shut out of discussion and “regular citizens” couldn’t weigh in. She writes…



“Of course, in almost every other case, I believe in scientific freedom. But the issue here is not free speech and thought. It's a debate about risk. In this case, the risk posed by noodling with the super-bird-flu is so extreme that it affects all of us. Are you willing to bet your life on this research?”

 


But a writer for The Huffington Post says it’s the use of scare tactics that harm the public.



“I am disturbed that so much coverage of this dispute -- so deserving of sober consideration -- is fixated on fear mongering....Admittedly, the debate in the academy and their professional learned societies involve detailed and complex evaluations of real and potential risks and benefits that do not fit into 30-second soundbites on television or pithy opinion pieces.”
 


The journals Science and Nature were expected to publish an edited version of the experiments, but no word yet when the full studies will be published.

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