Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Bio-censorship

This excellent article in Wired explains how fears of bio-terrorism might lead to restrictions in research and censorship. Just as physics research was censored during the cold war, or defense engineering research is overviewed by the government right now, scientists working on pathogens may be the next ones on the list. Already scientists cannot work on the pox virus, or any virus with over 85% homology (or sequence identity to be exact), which includes the vaccine itself! How long before you need an iris scan to get into level 2.5 labs, or you need to send your latest VSV paper to the censors? Thankfully I doubt terrorists have the level of sophistication needed to engineer dangerous viruses, and why bother, when any scoop of soil can provide you with anthrax, and a turd could make an excellent E coli "dirty bomb". In any case we're already feeling the effects of 9/11 in science, as it's getting increasingly difficult to ship samples over the border. And I'm not even talking about fears of pandemics. There are no more swans in the Rideau river here in Ottawa because officials are worried about the avian flu! Damn bird terrorists...


4 comments:

Anonymous said...

One thing is for sure: degenerate grad students aren't --sofisticated-- enough to spell properly :P

Guillaume said...

On a more constructive note....

Here are several interesting articles from Technology Review on the subjet.

The Knowledge
Very lengthy articles describing the work of Serguei Popov at Preparat (USSR's pharmaceutical agency) on weaponizing biological agents, and whether or not there is a threat of bio-terrorism.
http://www.technologyreview.com/Biotech/16485/

Assessing the Threat
http://www.technologyreview.com/BioTech/wtr_16459,306,p1.html

kamel said...

Thank you for posting the Popov story! I was looking for that link. I read that ages ago -- interesting stuff.

And everybody knows it's spelled 'sophistikated'

Bayman said...

What? No more swans? What are you guys going to catch on those flies?