The "let's censor science" crowd is back at it again! Ok, so the study in question is pretty awesomely about making things infectious that previously weren't, but that is not the point. What is the point? I will get to that. First the background from the Washington Post:
Researchers in Germany reported yesterday that they had altered the DNA of a disease-causing bacterium to enable it to infect a species it cannot normally sicken -- a double-edged advance that experts said could deepen scientists' understanding of human diseases but could also speed the development of novel bioterrorism agents.
The change in infectiousness -- the first of its kind ever engineered from scratch -- poses no direct threat to human health, scientists said, because the microbe already causes a human disease: the food-borne illness called listeriosis.
The change allows that microbe to sicken mice, a species it has no natural capacity to infect.
Still, the work has biosecurity implications because it could, in theory, be applied in reverse, endowing a bacterium that causes a serious animal disease with an unprecedented ability to sicken people.
Several experts said they were disappointed that the report, in today's issue of the journal Cell, does not mention those implications.
Also worrisome to some is that Cell's editors did not seek outside advice on whether publication of the study would pose a security threat. Although in this case the consensus appears to be that the study would have easily passed muster, several prestigious U.S. organizations have called for such reviews when "dual use" microbiological advances are submitted for publication.
Echoing the recommendations of the National Academies, the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity -- part of the National Institutes of Health -- has called for extra layers of review before the publication of research that shows how to "alter the host range . . . of a biological agent."
Emilie Marcus, Cell's editor, said she has "a somewhat dissenting opinion" about the value of such reviews. "Issues were discussed and raised" internally, she said.
HEY GOVERNMENT! SCIENCE DOESN'T FUCKING WORK FOR YOU OR GIVE A SHIT WHAT YOU THINK!!!!!
In fact, Science doesn't even necessarily work for the betterment of humanity. Science is about understanding how things work. Then scientists, once they figure out how something works, publish an article about how it works.
I'd like to give a big round of applause to Emilie Marcus for rejecting outright the idea of "reviews" on what can be published in a scientific journal. I think that's what a board of editors is for. I don't think Stable Isotope Quarterly has been publishing troop positions in Iraq, and last I checked Elsevier hasn't released a "How to make weapons-grade anthrax FOR DUMMIES" book.
The pinheaded bureaucratic morons of the world think that the 400 year old tradition of free and global exchange of scientific knowledge is suddenly a bad thing because we are now FIGHTING TERROR!!!!
I think the culturing of XDR-TB is a bit more pressing biosecurity issue than the possibility that a terrorist sect will spend several years studying the protein structures of exotic animal diseases with the intention of infecting humans with them...
I mean come on, get a fucking grip people. These people make bombs out of cow shit and a briefcase. If you can't do it in a college biology lab they're not going to be messing about with it. Let the grown-ups make science progress so we can maybe figure out new ways to fight diseases other than throwing synthetic fungus at them.