The UK’s Independent reports that a deadly strain of bird flu with the potential to infect and kill millions of people has been created in a laboratory by European scientists – who now want to publish full details of how they did it.
The discovery has prompted fears within the US Government that the knowledge will fall into the hands of terrorists wanting to use it as a bio-weapon of mass destruction.
US government's hopes of suppressing details of controversial research may be doomed, say scientists
The US government has asked two scientific journals to refrain from publishing key parts of research on the H5N1 strain of bird flu to prevent the information falling into the hands of terrorists intent on recreating the same flu strain for use as a bioweapon.
However, scientists said the plea comes too late because the information has already been shared widely among flu researchers. Others argue that the move could obstruct attempts to find new vaccines and drugs to combat an infectious form of human H5N1 if it appeared naturally. Professor Richard Ebright, a virologist at Rutgers University in New Jersey, said the research, which was funded by the US government, should never have been done without first assessing how to control the release of scientific information. "The work should have been reviewed at the national or international level before being performed, and should have been restricted at a national or international level before being performed," he said.