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Secret Science

Laboratory-bred bird flu. The government says the research has to stay under wraps and away from terrorists. We’ll look at secret science.

FILE - In this Friday, Feb. 18, 2011 file photo, Indian health workers carry killed ducks to burry them at the R.K. Nagar Government Duck Farm in Agartala in the remote northeastern state of Tripura, India. An official says around 4.000 birds have been culled at a government-run duck farm in the state after some poultry tested positive for a deadly strain of bird flu that can potentially be fatal for humans. (AP) Photo/Sushanta Das, File)

In this Friday, Feb. 18, 2011 file photo, Indian health workers carry killed ducks to burry them at the R.K. Nagar Government Duck Farm in Agartala in the remote northeastern state of Tripura, India. An official says around 4.000 birds have been culled at a government-run duck farm in the state after some poultry tested positive for a deadly strain of bird flu that can potentially be fatal for humans. (AP)

Bird flu was bad enough. What if it came back worse? Way more deadly. Super-lethal. Government-funded research into just that question found an answer. With just a few mutations, it could be far worse. A global killer. Scientists proved the point by creating a sample of that killer.

Now, for the first time ever, the U.S. government is asking that this non-classified scientific research be buttoned up. Locked away. Put in a new category of secret science. This is new.

This hour, On Point: deadly understandings, fear of bio-terrorism, secret science.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Donald Henderson, Resident Scholar at the Center for Biosecurity of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Professor in the School of Medicine the School of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh. Immediately after the 9/11 attack, Dr. Henderson was appointed as the government’s first Director of the Office of Public Health Emergency Preparedness.

Robert Bazell, chief Science and Health Correspondent for NBC News.

Bruce Alberts, editor-in-chief of Science.

Hank Greely, director of the Center for Law and the Biosciences at Stanford University .

From Tom’s Reading List

The New York Times “For the first time ever, a government advisory board is asking scientific journals not to publish details of certain biomedical experiments, for fear that the information could be used by terrorists to create deadly viruses and touch off epidemics. ”

The Guardian “The chicken cull took place after the deadly H5N1 virus was discovered in birds at Hong Kong’s biggest poultry wholesale market. The virus was found in a dead chicken and in two wild birds. The Hong Kong government suspended trade in live chickens for 21 days and banned live imports from mainland China in a bid to prevent the disease from spreading.”

BBC “In a darkened conference room in Malta in September, a Dutch scientist announced to a virology meeting that he had created a mutated strain of H5N1 bird flu which had the potential to spread between humans.”

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