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Shifting sands

Scientists struggle to keep up with new regulations while protecting scientific freedom.

Peg Brickley(pegbrickley@hotmail.com)

From signs on laboratory walls, to university hiring practices and freedom to publish, terrorism has dramatically altered life for life scientists since fall 2001. Within weeks of September's attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, and hard on the heels of anthrax-laced mailings first discovered last October, the regulatory climate for scientists began heating up.

The 'USA Patriot Act' signed into law October 26, 2001, put criminal penalties into existing biological weapons regulations, and the proliferation of new rules continues even now, as Congress weighs revisions to the 'National Homeland Security and Combating Terrorism Act', which would hand control of bioterrorism research strategy to a new agency outside the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Daily, scientists are living with reminders that the work they have been doing to improve and extend lives has weapons potential. "Current CDC guidelines say we have to put a sign out to warn people,...

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