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Who's Protecting Whom From Deadly Toxin?

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Questions are swirling around a science journal's decision last year to publish a description of a newly discovered botulinum toxin while omitting key genetic details that researchers would normally disclose. The unusual case highlights important unresolved issues in how to balance scientific openness with the worry that biological information could potentially be misused. NPR has learned that the scientist at the center of this controversy has not been sharing materials and information with other botulinum toxin researchers ā€” and for two years, he ignored entreaties from federal officials who wanted the microbe so that they could test vaccines and antitoxins. The scientist kept the genetic sequence secret, but federal officials did not recommend doing so.

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