Illustrative Respondent Comments on Education and Training
“I think there are already useful restrictions on potentially harmful agents. The key from here on in is education and awareness.”
“I am in favor of universities increasing their discussion of dual use research with faculty, staff and students and not increasing the amount of federal oversight.”
“Dissemination and use of a handful of specific agents and reagents should be regulated. Experimental practices and dissemination of information re results should be managed by education regarding dual use dangers and institutional review (rather than government regulation).”
“Training is your primary deterrent. If people know and/or recognize potential hazards, usually they will report it if the atmosphere is not too detrimental or restrictive and heavy handed.”
“Education, not regulation. Peer pressure versus governmental censorship and research restrictions. It is dual purpose: why block life-supporting research for potential misuse? All technology and definitive research is a double-edged sword: radiation to treat cancer and to kill people, molecular engineering to improve crop production and induce plagues. I am fed up with governmental paranoia. Yes, be concerned and watchful, but carry on normal life.”
“Good training in ethics is essential for everyone in science. The other major thing that will prevent bioterrorism is to widely promulgate the contact information for responsible public authorities who can investigate potential threats or potentially dangerous individuals that scientists may identify.”
Funding agencies could play a role in oversight since they would see research proposals and progress reports. This could be considered part of the more general question about federal oversight addressed in the next section, since the majority of funding for life sciences research comes from the federal government. But we wanted to ask specifically about the role of funding agencies since at least the major funders in the United Kingdom have initiated a review for biosecurity concerns (BBSRC/MRC/Wellcome Trust 2005).
The survey therefore asked (1) whether funding agencies should require grantees to attest on grant applications that they have considered the dual use implications of their proposed research and (2) whether they believed funding agencies would be less likely to fund grant proposals if the proposed research has dual use potential.