National Research Council warns of biological threats

Published 7 February 2006

NRC joins a number of other scientific bodies warning of terror-related perils attendant to medical and biotech research, but says that extra layer of secrecy is not the solution

A major new report from the National Research Council (NRC) warns of future biological threats and urges increased attention to how to prevent, detect, mitigate, and respond to the destructive use of biological agents. The report questions the value of secrecy in all this. “In general, restrictive regulations and the imposition of constraints on the flow of information are not likely to reduce the risks that advances in the life sciences will be utilized with malevolent intent in the future. In fact, they will make it more difficult for civil society to protect itself against such threats and ultimately are likely to weaken national and human security.”

The NRC is emphatic in its recommendation: “The Committee endorses and affirms policies and practices that, to the maximum extent possible, promote the free and open exchange of information in the life sciences.”

-read more in the NRC report (and see the useful discussion of biosecurity on pp. 163-71)