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Security starts in the lab

Researchers working with dangerous pathogens that could be exploited by terrorists should become “stewards of their science”, according to a report released this week by the US National Research Council (NRC). The report outlines a set of nine recommendations which aim at developing a culture of trust and responsibility among those working in the field, to help protect against dual use of science.

“They [scientists] are best able to identify potential risk, whether from a laboratory door left unsecured or the unusual behaviour of a laboratory worker,” writes Rita Colwell, chair of the committee that authored the report. “It is for these reasons that this report focuses on promoting a culture of responsibility, enabling and empowering scientists to be vigilant stewards of their science.”

US authorities have a list of around 80 biological agents and toxins deemed dangerous if they fall into the wrong hands. These include anthrax bacteria and the smallpox virus.
 
 

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