Of greatest concern are those experiments that have the potential to produce information, products, or technologies that could:
• Enhance the harmful consequences of a biological agent or toxin;
• Disrupt immunity or the effectiveness of an immunization without a clinical and/or agricultural justification;
• Confer to a biological agent or toxin, resistance to clinically and/or agriculturally useful prophylactic or therapeutic interventions against that agent or toxin, or facilitate their ability to evade detection methodologies;
• Increase the stability, transmissibility, or the ability to disseminate a biological agent or toxin;
• Alter the host range or tropism of a biological agent or toxin;
• Enhance the susceptibility of a host population; or
• Generate a novel pathogenic agent or toxin, or reconstitute an eradicated or extinct biological agent.6
Continuing the discussion on biosecurity, Lawrence Kerr, Deputy Director for Global Biological Threats, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, spoke about government regulations and recommendations, with a focus on defining threat, risk, vulnerability, and consequence. Kerr began his remarks with a historical overview, citing concern within the U.S. national security community during World War II that the country could lose its military superiority. At that time, Kerr stated, the President’s Scientific Research Board strongly advised that “security regulations … should not attempt to cover basic principles of fundamental knowledge.”7 In 1949, Kerr continued, President Truman told a panel convened by the American Association for the Advancement of Science that “[c]ontinuous research by our best scientists is the key to American leadership and true national security.”
Kerr noted that a later Executive Order stated that “basic science research information not clearly related to the national security may not be classified.” He elaborated on the Corson Report’s argument against “security by secrecy” and observed that, at the time of the report’s 1982 publication, there was no practical way to restrict international scientific exchange without also hindering communication within U.S. borders. Following the Corson Report, Kerr said, those in governmental, nongovernmental, national, and international circles attempted unsuccessfully to find frameworks for handling research in a “gray zone”—research not immediately
6 Ibid., 18-21.
7 The President’s Scientific Research Board was established by President Truman in October 1946.