US asks scientific journals to censor bird flu studies

So should any information that may be misused be subject to censorship?

The Guardian reports,

The US government has asked the scientific journals Nature and Science to censor data on a laboratory-made version of bird flu that could spread more easily to humans, fearing it could be used as a potential weapon.

The US National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity [NSABB] asked the two journals to publish redacted versions of studies by two research groups that created forms of the H5N1 avian flu that could easily jump between ferrets – typically considered a sign the virus could spread quickly among humans.

The journals are objecting to the request, saying it would restrict access to information that might advance the cause of public health…

The National Institutes of Health funded the two research labs’ work to see how the virus could become more transmissible in humans, with the aim of getting early insight to contain threats to public health.

The NSABB wants to keep this information from falling into the wrong hands.

Read the Guardian article.

4 thoughts on “US asks scientific journals to censor bird flu studies”

  1. Interesting dilemma–makes one wonder why no one thought of this problem before they ran the experiment. However, one could publish the information only to the academic community and on a limited basis so science research could be done. If the public at large could not access the information, it would help. While terrorists could conceivably steal the virus, there are unlimited ways of creating death and destruction that are so much easier. Keep the findings within the science community and that should limit the chances terrorists would steal the virus. Plus, there are plenty of deadly viruses out there if a terrorist wants to work up a dispersal system. The world is a dangerous place…….

  2. Scientific literature is neither classified nor all that difficult to access for anyone. The information in scientific literature is readily available to the public at large. Any university library and a good public library will have all the information you could want on hand or available through inter-library loan. The interesting factoid in the Grauniad article is that the “US Government” has asked the publications to censor the article, but the NIH, which is also a US government agency funded the work. Bizarrely, the NSABB is tied to the NIH via the OBA. Effectively, the NIH is fighting with itself.

  3. “Scientific literature is neither classified nor all that difficult to access for anyone” tell that to the lying ‘Climate Scientist” who have refused to release data for decades. EX: Michael Mann the Hockey Stick hoax!

  4. Scientific literature can be classified. We only read the non-classified stuff. This is from the John’s Hopkins site:

    Johns Hopkins University endorses faculty participation in research in the national interest. At the same time, however, the University’s commitment to openness in documentation and dissemination of research results prohibits conducting classified research activities or using classified information on its academic campuses. Consequently, the Applied Physics Laboratory, which is not an academic division, is a suitable location for conducting classified research projects.

    I agree this looks like someone forget to get together and decide if the virus research was or was not classified. Now everyone looks bad in this mess. Planning ahead seems to be lacking here–they need to work on that.

    You can argue that is it’s not published, it’s not science, but if the research is repeatable and verifiable, even by only those with clearance, it’s still science. And unlike Michael Mann’s research, classified research is not sold to the public as gospel truth.

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