Feds to Science Journals: Keep Lid on Bird Flu Details

Citing bioterror fears, it asks that details be kept out of upcoming articles
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 20, 2011 7:21 PM CST
A researcher of the National Center for Epidemic checks flu samples in this file photo.   (AP Photo/Bela Szandelszky)

(Newser) – A precedent in the world of science that isn't all that comforting: A federal advisory board has asked the journals Science and Nature to censor parts of new research on a flu virus so bioterrorists can't start a pandemic, reports the New York Times. Researchers in the US and the Netherlands figured out how to make the virus that causes bird flu easily transmissible among ferrets and, theoretically, in people.

The National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity has asked the journals to keep key details out of upcoming articles on the research. “My concern is that we don’t give amateurs—or terrorists—information that might let them do something that could really cause a lot of harm,” one board member tells the Times. The editor of Science says the magazine is likely to comply, and there's no word yet from Nature. (Read more bird flu stories.)

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