John Steinbruner is accustomed to getting a strong negative reaction from scientists when he pitches his proposal for mandatory international oversight of inherently dangerous areas of biomedical research. The University of Maryland (UM) arms control expert is calling for an international body of scientists and public representatives who would authorize scientific research that carries potential for grave social consequences.

It's an idea he has taken to meetings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the World Medical Association in recent months, and put forth again in London last Friday at a bioterrorism meeting sponsored by the Royal Society of Medicine and the New York Academy of Medicine.

The plan for a global authorizing body to decide in advance what scientists should be allowed to investigate is not an easy sell in a community where even voluntary self-regulation of potentially dangerous research results draws fire, and open publication...

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