Monday, October 17, 2005

Genome of 1918 Flu Virus "Recipe for Destruction"

A New York Times article from Oct 17 quotes Ray Kurzweil and Bill Joy as saying that the government's decision to publish the full genome of the "Spanish Flu" virus from the 1918 pandemic on the internet as "extremely foolish" - and I quite agree.

From the article:

"The genome is essentially the design of a weapon of mass destruction. No responsible scientist would advocate publishing precise designs for an atomic bomb."

Revealing the sequence for the flu virus is even more dangerous because it would be easier to create and release this highly destructive virus from the genetic data and release of the virus would be far worse than an atomic bomb (hundreds of millions killed vs. millions), they state.

The publication of the genome sequence has been reviewed by the National Science Board for Biosecurity, who found the benefits far outweigh the risks. The Center for Disease Control & Prevention assures us that proper precautions have been taken for working with the virus. Let's pray they are right.

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