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Scientists Choose Sides In Safety Debate Over Lab-Made Pathogens

A smoldering debate about whether or not researchers should ever deliberately create superflu strains and other risky germs in the interest of science has flared once again.

Proponents of the work say that in order to protect the public from the next naturally occurring pandemic, they have to understand what risky infectious agents are capable of ā€” and that means altering the microbes in experiments. Critics argue that the knowledge gained from making new strains of these germs isn't worth the risk, because a lab-made pathogen might escape the laboratory and start spreading among people.

Now, as scientists on both sides of the dispute have formed groups that have issued manifestos and amassed lists of supporters, it looks like the prestigious National Academy of Sciences will step in to weigh the risks and benefits.
 
 

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