well-intentioned motives for conducting research and that the person who misapplies the results of the research is always thought to be someone else. Moreover, Brent observed that “use” is not the only consequence of “dual-use research.” He stated that the mere existence of the knowledge about how to create a transmissible, lethal virus may itself constitute harm.

RISK

Many of the workshop discussions were related to the questions of what constitutes risk, how is risk determined, and by whom? Related to these questions were observations that:

 

•    No consensus exists within the scientific community about what constitutes right action.

•    It is impossible to predict all of the ways in which a particular piece of research could be utilized for harm.

•    It is impossible to predict the ways in which a particular piece of research could be utilized for harm in the future.

•    Knowledge cannot be unmade; therefore, the estimation of risk (and acting on that estimation) is critically important.

 

In the specific case of the H5N1 controversy, several questions repeatedly emerged:

 

•    Is “nature” performing these experiments in the wild? If so, does that provide justification for scientists’ to perform them in the laboratory?

•    Are certain experimental questions particularly high risk?

•    Are there some areas of research that should not be pursued?

BROAD AND INCLUSIVE PARTICIPATION

The role of public inclusion in the process of formulating and carrying out an effective mechanism of oversight was a topic of several questions:

 

•    Should non-scientist members of the public be included in the development of oversight mechanisms, and if so, who, how, and at what point(s)?

•    What are the characteristics of effective oversight mechanisms that prompt public confidence?

 

Many participants saw the need for an internationally agreed upon system for the regulation of research of dual-use concern and stated that



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement