Today in free speech vs. public safety debates: American bureaucrats beg Science and Nature magazines not to unlock the secrets of a "man-made mutant killer flu virus" invented in a Dutch laboratory, that could kill everyone forever, or at least give some rodents a case of the runs.
The mysterious H5N1 avian influenza strain was "genetically altered in a Dutch lab so it can pass easily between ferrets." They submitted a paper about it to Science and Nature, but the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) say the secrets of H5N1 are too "scary" to be made public. Science's editor is "taking very seriously" NSABB's request to publish an "abbreviated" version of the report. "At the same time, however, Science has concerns about withholding potentially important public health information from responsible influence researchers." Nature's editor said roughly the same thing, but including a note about "responsible scientists" and a reference to "active consultation" with the paper's authors.
Just to fearmonger (Happy to do my part, patriots!) here's one more quote from the chairman of NSABB: "I can't think of another pathogenic organism that is as scary as this one. I don't think anthrax is scary at all compared to this." Yup, all gonna die. First Gwyneth, then Matt Damon, then you, and your little feather-infused pet ferret, too. [National Post, image via Inxti/Shutterstock]