The US Is Trying To Censor Bird Flu Studies In Scientific Journals

The US government has approached the scientific journals Nature and Science in order to censor data on a lab-made version of bird flu, because it could potentially be used as a weapon. That's not cool.

According to the Guardian, the US National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) asked the journals to publish redacted versions of studies carried out by two research groups.

Back in November, we reported that researchers had created forms of the H5N1 avian flu virus that can easily spread amongst ferrets. Apparently, and you're going to have to believe us here, that is typically considered a sign it can spread quickly between humans, too. Now they're trying to publish the work, and the US government isn't very happy.

As you'd hope, Nature and Science are reluctant to bow to the request. Editor in chief of Nature, Dr Philip Campbell, told the Guardian:

"It is essential for public health that the full details of any scientific analysis of flu viruses be available to researchers."

Damn straight — not publishing that information is damaging. Not just to the advancement of health care, but science generally.

H5N1 is deadly — but so far it hasn't mutated into a form that can pass easily from person to person. This research, done by Yoshihiro Kawaoka, a University of Wisconsin-Madison scientist, and Dr Ron Fouchier and colleagues from the Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam, shows that might not be the case for long.

Apparently the NSABB asked the journal to delete details on the scientific methods and specific mutations of the virus before publishing.

This goes against the nature of science. Science works because people announce their findings for others to question — allowing us to confirm or refute them. That's how science progresses, and censoring it like this kills the process. It's also a hugely dangerous precedent to set. I hope the journals win out. [The Guardian, Image: Y]


Comments

    Dude, we're not talking about some sniffy nose, this thing is called the armageddon virus for good reason, it has a 60% mortality rate and is airborne. While it might make your schlock movie cannot sense tingle, it's not funny.

    Dont you mean china tried to censor it?

    oh wait....

    The only reason I can think of anyone doing this to the H5N1. They are an asshole, their mother is a whore and they have a horribly disfigured face.

    No sane person would do this.

    I think they should severely reprimand the scientist who thought it was a good idea to do in the first place (to genetic engineer flu to make it more lethal).

      What next? Combining EVD with the common cold?

    This guy is an idiot, if they want to research it, they can show their credentials and get it the safe way. Doing it this way is bloody ridiculous. I'm not normally a fan of anything US, but in this case I hope they can make common sense prevail. It mat not actually be all that dangerous, but lets assume it's not safe please! Let's err on the side of common sense.

    I think you need to remember that the publication of papers and research are read by other scientists - who then have a different view and or new ideas.

    Of course any experimentation would have to be done in containment - but blanket banning the sharing of research is just foolish. You cannot expect one scientist, or even one lab to come up with the cure for something so potent -

    If they ban it from science journals, will it be available as a private paper? who knows...

    We can't live in a world where we wipe away our research out of fear someone bad will come across it.

      We're not talking about a ban on scientists sharing info. We're talking about making it easily available to those who shouldn't have access at all!

        Do you really think they wouldnt be able to get 'secured information?'
        The baddies have people in every industry - denying this would be stupidity.

        The only way to make this stuff 'safe' is to wipe it, store it on isolated systems or never do it to begin with.

        Stunting progress out of fear is creating more trouble than good. If it is such a danger, why mention testing is going on at all?

          I think he's talking about making it too easy for the bad guys not stopping the flow of information!

    I worked as a genetic engineering research scientist many years ago, and i am very much against censoring legitimate scientific work, but this is serious sh*t.

    In our modern interconnected world of fast air travel, viruses like this modified one could come close to wiping us out as a species.

    This virus has a 60% fatality rate, there are others (like some hemorrhagic fevers) with a 100% fatality rate. Imagine one of these viruses is engineered to be airborne transmissible if they had a short period of time where you are infectious but don’t have major symptoms, we are gone…..

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