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Smallpox WHO?

Last month the World Health Organization's external committee on smallpox recommended that the two scientific teams possessing smallpox virus be allowed to insert a green fluorescent marker gene into the virus to test the efficacy of potential antismallpox drugs.

John Dudley Miller

Last month the World Health Organization's external committee on smallpox recommended that the two scientific teams possessing smallpox virus be allowed to insert a green fluorescent marker gene into the virus to test the efficacy of potential antismallpox drugs. The WHO committee had actually made at least seven recommendations (see The Scientist Daily News, November 19, for all of them). It tried to keep the complete recommendations under wraps, even after someone leaked the fluorescent marker recommendation to National Public Radio.

Consider this exchange: When asked whether his group had made any recommendations beyond the green marker gene-insertion proposal, Geoffrey Smith of Imperial College London, the chair of the advisory group, immediately and emphatically said "No!" Only after he was questioned about another specific recommendation, and asked pointedly whether the committee hadn't indeed recommended it did Smith acknowledge that the committee had recommended it. He refused to reveal any...

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