When the World Health Organization's (WHO) external advisory committee on smallpox recommended last week that WHO allow the two research teams still possessing the virus to insert a green fluorescent marker gene into it to test the efficacy of potential anti-smallpox drugs, the committee also made at least six other research recommendations, according to a WHO spokesman, including at least two that some researchers find controversial.

The additional recommendations, which along with the green-marker proposal have yet to be approved by WHO, would allow labs around the world to work with fragments of the variola virus as large as 20% of the whole genome, according to Daniel Lavanchy, WHO's in-house smallpox expert. The proposals would also permit the two smallpox repository labs—one at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and the other at Novosibirsk in Russia—to insert variola genes one at a time into other viruses in...

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