In March, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) created the US National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity, meant to be the centerpiece of a new national system to prevent bioterrorists from seeing research they could transform into bioweapons (see http://www.the-scientist.com/news/20040305/04). But since then, the board has never met, its members have not been chosen, and its professional staff is not yet in place. As of earlier this month, the news page of its Web site had not been updated since June 22.

A committee of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) proposed the board as a self-policing body of scientists necessary to preempt the federal government from taking more drastic measures, such as classifying some research as secret and outlawing its publication. Gerald Fink, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor who chaired the NAS report, says he has no idea why the committee hasn't already geared up....

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