H5N1 research censorship 'problematic'

The editor of the world-leading scientific journal Nature says current procedures to assess and censor medical research potentially of use to terrorists need to be improved. Dr Philip Campbell made his remarks to BBC News following the publication of controversial research into the bird flu virus H5N1.Two research papers have raised the concern of anti-terrorist agencies.One was submitted to Nature; the other to another leading journal, Science.The Science paper has yet to appear.Both pieces of research show that the H5N1 virus can relatively easily mutate into a form that might spread rapidly among the human population.The studies had prompted the US National Security Advisory Board for Biotechnology (NSABB) to ask both journals last November to take out some sensitive parts of the research that it believed could be used by terrorists to develop a bio-weapon.Many in the scientific community, including the researchers concerned, argued that the benefits of publishing the research in full outweighed the risks.


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