A National Research Council (NRC) committee Wednesday (October 8) proposed a self-policing administrative system whereby scientists would review all American biotechnology experiments to make sure that terrorists don't learn anything from cutting-edge research that they could use to harm American citizens.

Although the new bioresearch security program would apply to all US scientists, not just to publicly funded ones, cooperation with the program would be voluntary, relying on scientists' good will and their desire to avoid more cumbersome regulations that the federal government might otherwise impose. Scientists who choose not to cooperate would not be punished.

Noting that all new biotechnology discoveries have “dual use,” helpful/harmful potential, “The challenge is for the scientific community to develop a system that permits fundamental research to proceed unimpeded, while identifying research with great potential for misuse,” according to the report issued Wednesday by the NRC-appointed group, the Committee on Research Standards and Practices...

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