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Biosecurity Board Recommends Full Publication of Bird Flu Studies

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the keeping-mum-about-the-zombies-though dept.

Censorship 21

An anonymous reader writes "Two controversial scientific papers on a mutant form of the H5N1 avian flu virus should be published in uncensored form after a review determined there would be no immediate threat from releasing the data, a U.S. biosecurity panel said, revising its earlier decision."

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Profit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39558603)

- publication on how to make new humane flu viruses
- buy stock in pharmaceutics companies producing anti-virals and flu vaccines
- wait...
- spread of new viruses
- profit!

Re:Profit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39558703)

Gotta love the irony here...

Re:Profit (2)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 2 years ago | (#39558997)

The bird flu the coop a long time ago.

Re:Profit (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39558821)

Did you know?

Black males are about 6% of the US population and commit over 50% of all the murders.


The information is already out in the public... (4, Insightful)

acidfast7 (551610) | more than 2 years ago | (#39558699)

as it has been disseminated previously (at conferences, etc...) Why is this "still" an issue? Just publish it and be done with it.

Re:The information is already out in the public... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39559017)

Bird flu studies? Release them. Birds can't read anyway.

Confirmation (4, Insightful)

openfrog (897716) | more than 2 years ago | (#39558705)

Another confirmation, and a particularly revealing and interesting one at that, that there is no security trough obscurity.

Re:Confirmation (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39558959)

Sigh. Yes, if you feed at the trough of security, you'll get cancer from the backscatter radiation.

Re:Confirmation (1)

brit74 (831798) | more than 2 years ago | (#39561671)

How is this confirmation of anything? 'A scientific review board agree with releasing the recipe for a nasty form of bird flu' [though they might be wrong and foolhardy] = confirmation of a larger, more general principle? First, I personally thought their language was surprisingly limited - they said there was no immediate threat from releasing the information (apparently, they haven't even tried to decide if there's a mid or long-term threat from releasing the data). And, second, the review board votes were split 12 versus 6. Unless you're going to argue that all review boards come to the correct decision whenever they have 18 members, then you can't even argue that they made the right decision. Let's say that the votes had gone the other way, would this disconfirm the principle of security through obscurity? Or would you decide that this is not disconfirmation of "security through obscurity", but just an instance of a review board making a wrong decision?

Fear Mongering (Case #674391) (4, Insightful)

tiberus (258517) | more than 2 years ago | (#39558873)

Ah, the Great Belief (tm) that I (we) should somehow feeling inherently safer, sleep easier at night and be proud to bring our children into a world where only the Trusted Few (tm) know the Awesome Secrets of the Puniverse (tm). I'd like to be the first to call Bullshit but, many Great Seers have come down from the mountain and proclaimed thus before me.

Can we, as a society, not see that it is our fear that puts us at risk and not knowledge? Trust me, the Bad Guys(tm) already know the Bad Stuff(tm). The fear based hording of information won't stop something bad from happening.

Re:Fear Mongering (Case #674391) (1)

tiberus (258517) | more than 2 years ago | (#39558875)

Buggered up the mark-up on that one...

Re:Fear Mongering (Case #674391) (1)

brit74 (831798) | more than 2 years ago | (#39561695)

Indeed. No doubt you're selling nuclear secrets to North Korea and crazy doomsday cults at this very moment.

Re:Fear Mongering (Case #674391) (1)

greenmanfalling (1866244) | more than 2 years ago | (#39563325)

Yeah, although you really do have to be practical about it. I'd trust that the review board weighed the right pros and cons. I mean, at some point you have to consider how obvious the research is, which I guess would correspond to the engineering techniques. Those techniques are probably gonna be really really in depth, since it's biotech, but it's not like the genome-comparisons of people/animal hopping viruses haven't been made before in detail... It's not my field, I left Bioengineering for Biostatistics after my Masters (I'm all bumbly in the lab), but it seems like this would just be introducing specific point mutations for cellular attachment/endocytosis? Or just switching the code for the external protein with that of a human-attacking virus? Actually I'm not sure if that's all that's needed. That's the obvious part, and I might be off. I'm really oversimplifying. Anyone doing this kind of work right now? I'm just saying, if someone came up totally out of the blue with a people-killa based on a totally fringe tech, and then decided to immediately publish it, I'd go ahead and call that irresponsible. But to publish stuff that's pretty well studied anyway and could easily happen naturally? Then again you could probably argue that even in the unforeseen tech case the collective scientific public might do a better job coming up with countermeasures than the government, and the more esoteric the tech the more difficult it is for a lone crazy to replicate it. Meh, I'll trust the board, since in this case they're probably looking to cover their butts pretty well since it's so well publicized.

The main news (4, Interesting)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 2 years ago | (#39558935)

H5N1 will almost certainly become pandemic owing to mutations in the wild. The study showed that this is very likely. So, we know what to target in terms of vaccine development and with what urgency. It seems a lot of people missed this.

Cry wolf too often... (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39559007)

One of these days, a pandemic will sweep across the globe and we will not be prepared. Not because we were not warned. But because we were warned far too many times.

For fuck's sake, it's no longer a secret that the H5N1 pandemic was a big hype. At least publish it now and confess that you fucked up, that way you may retain at least a bit of credibility. Else you're just seen as the kid who cries wolf for fun (or in this case, profit).

Did you RTFA? (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 2 years ago | (#39559787)

That study comproves that there was a wolf there, and goes into details on what to look for on that wolf (so we can find it faster), and how to protect against it. Oh, and incidentaly, it comes with a receipt on how to create your own lethal wolf.

Re:Did you RTFA? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39562173)

And why should I believe in this wolf this time?

The point is, we have had "the sky is falling, repent your sins for the pandemic is coming" warnings before. People went and prepared themselves, bought masks and vaccines, which I do not doubt to be a sensible thing IF, and only IF, such a thing actually has a chance to happen.

Problem is, it never happened. Not even a little bit so one could argue that because we had ample warning and preparation we could contain it in time. If we had a few hundred or thousand cases and a few fatalities, and not just in some godforsaken corner of the planet nobody gives a shit about, people would praise the researchers and applaud them as the heroes that kept us from being caught in a disaster that could have killed half the population of the planet.

What actually happened were a few cases that "might have been" or "could have been" "possibly" cases of infection with the virus-du-jour, which pretty soon turned out to be some other, fairly harmless, infections.

Could they be right? Damn well they could. And if we don't listen to them if they're right, we're in for big trouble. But after crying wolf far too many times, why should we believe them?

Re:Did you RTFA? (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 2 years ago | (#39562661)

If you read a "repent your sins" message into any "there might a problem there" statement, the problem might be on your side, you know.

Re:Did you RTFA? (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 2 years ago | (#39562931)

And why should I believe in this wolf this time?

I don't know. If a receipt describing how to create the virus, and the knowledge that Nature does follow all those steps at random all the time isn't enough for you to belive that the virus could appear... Yeah, I can't think about anything that will convince you. You can repeat the experiment if you know how to handle such virus, that's the entire reason that "science" stuff works. Just make sure to not let it into the public.

Problem is, it never happened.

You also don't belive on your history books, do you?

Truth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39559935)

You can't handle the truth!

Heads Up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39564177)

There are rumors that the NWO is planning on releasing a virus into the wild that will kill off much of the population.

If the information is released, then the governement behind it can claim terrorist did it.

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