Another disappointing "they just don't get it" type of report from Media-Newswire:
"James Randerson - who studied for his PhD at the University of Bath - showed how small segments of the genetic blueprint, or genome, of smallpox could be purchased from companies who supply these segments, known as oligos, for a range of biomedical, law enforcement and research applications.
In his front page report, Dr. Randerson asked whether this trade, together with published genome sequences, posed a bioterrorism risk ( see related links section ).
The report prompted calls for access to the technology to be restricted, and a government investigation into the potential threat.
Speaking ahead of the Science Café in The Raven pub in Bath next week, he raised the question of whether the genetic recipe for the virus that causes smallpox should be available freely on the internet.
“These are the dilemmas posed by recent advances in genetics and biotechnology which scientists and the rest of us must grapple with,” said Dr Randerson.
“Intellectual freedom and sharing of information are central to scientific progress, and any restrictions on that will make science harder to do and could limit society's access to future medicines.
“But should there be restrictions on who has access to the materials and equipment that can be used to make viruses in the future, and are the scientific benefits of resurrecting a strain of flu that killed more people than the First World War worth the risks?
“The debate about where the balance lies between letting scientists have the information they need and withholding it from would-be terrorists is interesting, and I look forward to hearing people’s opinions on this issue.”
This is pure idiocy. First, any scientist who wants more governmental controls over research is not worth his weight in virology journals (and those are expensive). Second, it all boils down to the same old fallacy that terrorists are stupid and talking about bioterrorism only gives them more ideas.
They aren't little kids, people. They are grown-ups with usually a Western education and advanced degrees who know damn well what they are capable of achieving in the realm of bioterrorism.
You can't stop information from spreading, you can't keep it out of anyone's hands, and if you try you only end up hurting the people who would use it for good, because those who would use it for evil aren't going to play by the rules and will get information anyway.
You can't stop information. Sure, add extra security checks on people buying snippets of DNA, that sounds like a good policy decision. Shutting down biological research because it could fall into the hands of terrorists is idiotic, they are already doing their own biological research!!!
Stop buying into the concept that we are feeding terrorists ideas when we discuss possible scenarios. It's just not true. Open communication and planning is the only way to beat terrorism, not closed door secrecy -- that only leads to inter-office red tape and we all know that 9/11 could have been stopped if FBI was talking to the CIA.
Dr. Randerson, you can not stop information, and you are an idiot to try. The ability to buy snippets and compose full DNA strands of deadly pathogens is already a well known issue, you're report is nothing new or insightful.
Again, every scientist I have challenged on this point has never came here and defended themselves. I would like it very much if Dr. Randerson would explain exactly how one would stop DNA sequences from being posted on the internet, how one would stop sequencing equipment from being purchased worldwide, and how one would could possibly think that they are smarter than the microbiologists that terrorist networks currently have working on weaponizing biotic material.
There is no issue of balance. Either there is full communication and freedom for biological research or the terrorists have the upper hand, as their underground research will continue unabated by new rules and regulations.