"Science and technology have been enlisted in the fight against terrorism. The US Department of Homeland Security is investing over $1 billion per year in R&D. The National Institutes of Health is devoting even more, nearly 6% of its $28 billion R&D budget. US universities, national laboratories, and industrial R&D establishments all have become involved. While the nation is calling on the scientific community to serve these vital missions, it is also implementing policies that could cause serious, long-term damage to the science and technology enterprise.
These policies have affected the ability and willingness of foreign students and visitors to come to the United States to study or work. They've affected how we handle biological agents in our laboratories, how we regard scientific publications, and how we treat sensitive information. They've affected the conditions that federal agencies attach to contracts and sometimes to grants. And they've affected the atmosphere in university labs and government installations."
BioMedNet Scientists urged to take responsibility for bioterrorism
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"Although many scientific journals are now aware of their responsibility regarding publication of such research, what about when they receive manuscripts on work that is not intentionally related to dangerous pathogens, but which could nevertheless be misused?"
"Even though publishers are now becoming more aware of their responsibilities, the Internet presents a threat that has so far received little attention. An audience member noted, however, that in many cases, "the cat is out of the bag" with work that is posted onto the Internet which has not been submitted for peer review in a scientific journal."redux [09.20.03]
The Scientist Save the Lab from Patriotic Correctness
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"As exemplified by the well-publicized cases of Thomas Butler, David Kelly, and Steven J. Hatfill, the fallout from the War on Terror has been particularly hazardous for scientists. Donald A. Henderson, who was inaugural director of the US Office of Public Health Preparedness, which coordinates the national response to public health emergencies, has accused the FBI of losing "all perspective" and of being "out of control" in the Butler and Hatfill investigations.
The dangers are summed up by the case of Butler, chief of the division of infectious diseases at Texas Tech University."redux [09.13.03]
Wired News Science Suffers Security Complex
"In one telling situation, 32 scientists and editors connected to some of the most respected scientific journals have agreed to self-censor any advances they think might compromise national security.
"That's a chilling example of knowing whatever you do might not get published because an editor might decide that it will look bad for John Ashcroft," said Barry Bloom, dean of Harvard's School of Public Health."redux [05.09.03]
The Economist Publish and perish?
"THE rapid progress of genomics means that the publication of yet another gene sequence for one of the Earth's many millions of species is not guaranteed to raise much interest. But this is no ordinary species. Bacillus anthracis is the bug that causes anthrax. The publication, in Nature, comes two months after a group of editors of the world's leading scientific journals announced they were worried about publishing information that could be used by terrorists to evil ends. New procedures had therefore been put into place to tackle this threat. The question is, do they work?"redux [02.15.03]
BBC Bioterror fears impact free science
"A group of leading scientific journals has announced measures aimed at restricting the publication of research which could be used by bioterrorists.
In a joint statement, the journals' editors say it is crucial that concerns over terrorism do not affect the release of valuable medical research.
But they say they recognise there may be occasions when new research data should be withheld from publication because it could be abused.redux [01.14.03]
Genomeweb Should Bioterror Fear Make Sequences Secret? For TIGR's Fraser It's a Qualified No
"Despite fears that bioterrorists will use DNA sequence data to create 21st century superpathogens, genomic science should remain public, The Institute for Genomic Research head Claire Fraser said at a special National Academies meeting on national security and the life sciences last week.
Her explanation: genomics just isn't good enough yet to provide the kind of tools terrorists need."redux [12.01.02]
BioMedNet More bad news
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"Scientific information that the US government wants to keep mum, but which can't officially be labeled "classified," has been designated "sensitive but unclassified." One example is the National Academy of Science's recent report on agricultural bioterrorism. Its chapter on bioterror case studies is available only on a need-to-know basis. Other professional groups may find themselves in the same boat, but the rules governing the category are anything but clear.
Reference: Enserink, M. 2002. Entering the twilight zone of what material to censor. Science 298(5598):1548."
“Bioinformatics will be at the core of biology in the 21st century. In fields ranging from structural biology to genomics to biomedical imaging, ready access to data and analytical tools are fundamentally changing the way investigators in the life sciences conduct research and approach problems. Complex, computationally intensive biological problems are now being addressed and promise to significantly advance our understanding of biology and medicine. No biological discipline will be unaffected by these technological breakthroughs.”BIOINFORMATICS IN THE 21st CENTURY
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