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Science Mag: Keeping genetic codes free
Submitted by Gary Van Domselaar; posted on Friday, September 10, 2004
Submitter ``The threat of bioterror shouldn't stop scientists from freely sharing genome data, concludes a new report commissioned by the CIA and the National Science Foundation. Limiting public access to genome data on potential bioweapons is impractical and would do more scientific harm than good, says a panel of the National Academies' National Research Council (NRC) in a study released today.

``The U.S. government typically requires all federally funded scientists to make their genome data public. Since scientists sequenced the first viral genome in 1975, they have released the genetic codes of more than 1100 viruses and 150 bacteria, including those of the dangerous pathogens that cause smallpox, anthrax, and the plague. In the wake of the October 2001 U.S. anthrax attacks, however, some analysts suggested restricting access to such data to make sure it didn't fall into the wrong hands. They worried that would-be bioterrorists might draw upon the growing mountain of gene sequence data in public databases to engineer new bioweapons, such as toxic bacteria that resist drugs or unusually infectious viruses.''

Reference:
Malakoff, Keeping Genetic Codes Free, ScienceNOW 2004:1

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