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3 Results of the Survey This chapter presents the results of a survey of life scientist members of the AAAS who could readily be reached via e-mail about a range of issues related to biosecurity: their perceptions of the risk of bioterrorism and whether aspects of scientific communication might somehow con- tribute to increasing those risks; whether they have made changes in how they conduct research in response to dual use concerns; and their attitudes about what policies and practices might reduce the risks of dual use issues and who should have responsibility for implementing them. Quantitative data were collected via a Web-based survey, with invitations to participate sent to a sample of 10,000 life scientists who are AAAS members with verified e-mail addresses. Of the 10,000 scientists in the sample, 1,570 (or 15.7 percent) responded with completed questionnaires. Almost all of the respondents have conducted or managed life sciences research (and three-quarters of them are currently doing so), were employed, had a postgraduate degree, and were U.S. citizens. In addition, as described in Chapter 2, a substantial majority of the scientists were academics and most were mid-career. This chapter is divided into several sections reflecting particular results from the survey. Each section contains a brief background and a discussion of the responses and their possible implications, followed by a list summarizing the key results. The next section focuses on the types of research that the scientists who responded to the survey conduct, such as dual use or work with select agents. That is followed by a section on the views of these life scientists on bioterrorism, which includes both 63
64 DUAL USE RESEARCH IN THE LIFE SCIENCES their perceptions of the biosecurity risk and their views about a vari- ety of conditions that could facilitate a biorterror attack. The question- naire was organized around the potential responsibilities of individuals and institutions so the presentation of results in the âResponsibility for Oversightâ section follows that structure. The final section on âPolicyâ is focused on what steps the life scientists who responded to the survey support to reduce the potential that research results could pose a threat to national security. This analysis yielded results that the committee believes can help inform educational and outreach efforts to increase awareness and enhance oversight of research that raises concerns about dual use potential. RESPONDENTSâ RESEARCH EXPERIENCE Background As noted in Chapter 2, about 95 percent of the respondents to the survey had conducted or managed research at some point in their careers and 80 percent of those who had were also currently conducting or man- aging research. This section focuses on the types of research that these scientists conduct, specifically whether they considered their research to be dual use, their research involved any of seven categories of experi- ments identified by the National Science Advisory Board on Biosecurity (NSABB 2007), or their research involved select agents. Each of these types of research has been identified as producing the sort of results that raise concerns about potential misuse. The terms are discussed below, includ- ing an explanation of the definitions provided to survey participants. Asking scientists about their experiences with dual use research is complicated by the fact that the term âdual useâ can have different defi- nitions. The committee was not certain if scientists were familiar with the concept of dual use research of concern as it is used by the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB 2007). To help avoid con- fusion, the survey provided the following definition of dual use research: âIn recent years, members of the scientific and security policy communi- ties have raised concerns about the potential for misuse of knowledge, tools and techniques for purposes of bioterrorism. Such research is some- times called âdual useâ research because, although the research is intended only for beneficial purposes, it could be misapplied.â On the basis of this definition, survey participants were asked whether they considered any â See Atlas and Dando (2006) for a discussion of the various meanings of the term âdual use.â
RESULTS OF THE SURVEY 65 of the research they were currently conducting or managing to have âdual use potentialâ Another way to consider whether scientists are carrying out dual use research is to focus on particular types of experiments that seem most likely to raise issues relative to the potential for misuse. This approach was recommended by the Fink committee in its National Research Coun- cil (NRC) report, Biotechnology Research in an Age of Terrorism: The Committee identified seven classes of experiments that it believes illustrate the types of endeavors or discoveries that will require review and discussion by informed members of the scientific and medical com- munity before they are undertaken or, if carried out, before they are published in full detail. These categories represent experiments that are feasible with existing knowledge and technologies or with advances that the Committee could anticipate occurring in the near future (NRC 2004a:113). The National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB), build- ing on the Fink report, adopted a similar list of seven categories of experi- ments (see Box 1-2), which focus on microbial threats (NRC 2004a). Since this is the list that would form the basis for the policies recommended by the NSABB for all federally funded dual use research of concern (NSABB 2007), the committee wanted to learn how many of the respondents were conducting this type of research. Because the level of awareness of the NSABB list among the U.S. scientific community is not known, the ques- tion was prefaced with the following introduction: The National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) has identi- fied a subset of life sciences research that they believe may be worthwhile but may also need special review. Such research includes experiments designed to (1) enhance the harmful consequences of a biological agent or toxin; (2) disrupt immunity or the effectiveness of an immunization without clinical and/or agricultural justification; (3) confer to a biologi- cal 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; (4) increase the stability, transmissibility, or the ability to disseminate a biological agent or toxin; (5) alter the host range or tropism of a biological agent or toxin; (6) enhance the susceptibility of a host population; and (7) generate a novel pathogenic agent or toxin, or reconstitute an eradicated or extinct biological agent (NSABB 2006). â This question was only asked of respondents who were currently conducting or manag- ing research. â These were the categories specified by the NSABB at the time of the survey.
66 DUAL USE RESEARCH IN THE LIFE SCIENCES Finally, while dual use research of concern is not a category currently used to trigger formal federal oversight, scientists in the United States who currently work with âselect agentsâ are subject to significant govern- ment oversight aimed at enhancing biosecurity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regulate the possession, use, and transfer of select agents and toxins that have the potential to pose a âsevere threat to public health and safety,â and register all laboratories and other enti- ties in the United States involved in such activities. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) administers a comparable program for agents and toxins that could threaten plant and animal health. Experi- ence with select agents could affect oneâs views on dual use research and potential oversight measures. The survey asked participants if they had ever worked with or managed research using select agents. The question- naire offered the following definition for select agents: âa microorganism (virus, bacterium, fungus, rickettsia) or toxin listed by the CDC and the USDA as harmful to public or agricultural health.â Results and Discussion Among those life scientists who indicated that they are currently engaged in research, 16 percent considered their research to have dual use potential. Only a few scientists who responded to the survey thought that their current research fit into one (or more) of the seven NSABB categories of experiments. One-quarter of the respondents had worked with select agents at some point in their careers, as noted in Table 3-1. Overall, 25 percent of the respondents said that they were working with or had previously worked with select agents. The committee thought that this seemed a rather high percentage given its understanding of those currently working with select agents. To give a sense of the scope of the current programs, there are approximately 400 high-containment facilities â More information on the CDC and APHIS programs can be found at http://www.cdc. gov/od/sap/. â Note that as described by the NSABB, the criteria for dual use research apply to a much broader category of life sciences research, although they may incorporate certain research projects that involve select agents, depending on the nature of the particular experiments and the potential for misuse of the results and/or technology (http://oba.od.nih.gov/bios- ecurity/nsabb_faq.html#NSABB_FAQ016). â Information about who is working with select agents is excluded from FOIA as it is seen as a potential security risk and there was concern that if the survey asked who was cur- rently working with select agents individuals would not have answered the question out of concern that this was trying to find information that should not be revealed. â This may have been interpreted as a broader definition of select agents, including those regulated agents based upon terrorism potential as well as potential harm to public or agricultural health.
RESULTS OF THE SURVEY 67 TABLE 3-1 Number of Respondents Who Consider Their Research Dual Use, to Involve One of the Seven Categories of Experiments, or to Involve Select Agents Donât Did Not Variable Yes No Know Answer Total Current research is dual 215 (16%) 1,161 NA 31 1,407a use Current research 82 (5%) 1,294 NA 31 1,407a involves one of the seven categories of experiments Have worked with select 458 (25%) 1,200 140 156 1,954 agents aQuestion only applies to those respondents who answered that they were currently conducting or managing research. Percentages are the proportion of those answering âYesâ among those who gave any answer. SOURCE: NRC/AAAS Survey; data tabulations by staff. currently registered with the CDC to work with select agents, of which 37 percent are nonfederal, 20 percent are federal, 8 percent are commercial, 30 percent are academic, and 5 percent are private. The Federal Bureau of Investigation had cleared some 15,000 individuals to work in these facili- ties as of December 31, 2007. According to the CDC, about 12,000 people are actively working with select agents today.10 Using these figures for the numbers of individuals who have been cleared to work with select agents and are estimated to be actively work- ing with those agents today, it is reasonable to conclude that fewer than 10 percent of working life scientists in the United States could legally be working with select agents.11 Thus, the overall number of life scientists â Thefigures for 2007 are from the CDC Office for Terrorism Preparedness and Emergency Response; similar figures appear in the report of the Commission on the Prevention of WMD Proliferation and Terrorism (2008:25). â CDC Office for Terrorism Preparedness and Emergency Response. This figure includes more than doctoral-level researchers; clearances are also required for laboratory technicians and other nonscientific personnel. 10âData presented at the December 10, 2008 meeting of the NSABB by Robbin Weyant, Director, Division of Select Agents and Toxins, CDC, Department of Health and Human Services. 11âAs discussed in Chapter 2, although there is no complete list of the members of the population of life scientists in the United States available, in 2003 the National Science Foundation found 145,760 employed scientists with doctorates in agricultural, biological, and environmental life sciences (NSF 2006:6).
68 DUAL USE RESEARCH IN THE LIFE SCIENCES working with select agents requiring registration must be well under the 25 percent reported by respondents to the survey. There are several possible explanations for the high number of survey participants who reported working with select agents. First the question was worded so that individuals who had worked with agents on the select agent list prior to 2002, when registration was mandated, would be included. Moreover, it is possible that some respondents did not really know what was on the select agent listâthe survey did not actually provide a full list of agents. In addition, clinical diagnostic laboratories are exempt from registration if cultures are destroyed or transferred to a registered laboratory within a 7-day period following diagnosis. Thus, clinical microbiologists and others working in laboratories may have worked with select agents but not have done research on those agents and thus not have been required to have select agent clearance. Also, those life scientists working with toxins on the select agent list below threshold concentrations do not need to be registeredâmany, perhaps even most, neurobiologists have worked with tetrodotoxin, botulinum toxin, and other agents in neurophysiology experiments.12 Finally, it is possible that the respondents represented a biased por- tion of the population included in the study, that is, that those individuals who currently or previously worked with select agents and performed biosecurity-related research were more likely to have answered the ques- tions or to have responded to the survey than those who considered the survey topic remote from their area of research interest. As noted in Table 3-2, some scientists selected each potential combi- nation resulting from the three types of research, making for a complex relationship among the three types of research that may have influenced responses to the survey regarding acceptability of oversight and actions that may have been taken in response to dual use concerns. The combinations above give rise to one particularly interesting result: One might have expected that anyone who answered âYesâ to working with the seven NSABB categories of experiments would also answer âYesâ to working with dual use research, but this was not the case. Dual use as it is defined in the questionnaire was clearly interpreted more broadly than the 7 categories of experiments specified by the NSABB. 12â Under the current regulations, entities that do not at any time have more than the fol- lowing aggregate amounts (in the purified form or in combinations of pure and impure forms) under the control of a principal investigator are excluded from requirements of the regulation: abrin (100 mg), botulinum neurotoxin (0.5 mg), Clostridium perfringens epsilon toxin (100 mg), conotoxins (100 mg), diacetoxyscirpenol (1,000 mg), ricin (100 mg), saxitoxin (100 mg), shiga-like ribosome inactivating proteins (100 mg), shigatoxin (100 mg), staphy- lococcal enterotoxin (5 mg), tetrodotoxin (100 mg), and T-2 (1,000 mg) (http://www.cdc. gov/od/sap/).
RESULTS OF THE SURVEY 69 TABLE 3-2â Percentage of Respondents Working on Each Type of Research Works with Dual Works with Seven Work with Use Research Categories of Experiments Select Agents Percentage No No No 64 No No Yes 20 No Yes No 1 No Yes Yes 1 Yes No No 5 Yes No Yes 5 Yes Yes No 2 Yes Yes Yes 2 Total 100 Respondentsa 1,260 Did not answerb 694 Total 1,954 aOnly includes respondents who answered âYesâ or âNoâ to all three questions. bIncludes those who did not answer and logical skips. Interestingly, Table 3-3 shows that for the 82 respondents who reported that their research involved one of the seven categories of experiments (i.e., answered âYes,â as indicated in Table 3-1), 30 percent of those did not consider their research to be dual use. This could be explained by the fact that the seven categories are intended as a way to identify research with dual use potential. Or it could indicate disagreement with the Fink com- mittee and NSABB categories as representing the full range of dual use research. Although experiments in these categories would be subject to an initial review under the draft recommendations of the NSABB, neither the NRC report nor the NSABB assumes that every experiment that met the criteria for inclusion in one of the seven categories would be considered dual use research (NRC 2004a; NSABB 2007). TABLE 3-3â Percentage of Respondents Whose Current Research Was Dual Use and Was One of Seven Categories of Experiments Research in One of the 7 Categories of Experiments? Research is Dual Use? Yes No Total Yes 4 11 15 No 2 83 85 Total 6 94 N = 1,376 NOTE: Only includes respondents who answered both questions. SOURCE: NRC/AAAS Survey; data tabulations by staff.
70 DUAL USE RESEARCH IN THE LIFE SCIENCES TABLE 3-4 Number and Percentage of Respondents Whose Research Involves Dual Use, Seven Categories, or Select Agents, by Employment Sector Employment Sector N Percentagea Respondents A.â Work involves dual use research Industry 38 26 147 Academia 117 13 919 Government 25 31 81 Other 10 23 44 Total 190 16 1,191 B.â Research involves one or more of the seven categories of experiments Industry 9 6 147 Academia 53 6 919 Government 9 11 81 Other 1 2 44 Total 72 6 1,191 C.â Work involves or has involved select agents Industry 53 26 205 Academia 260 27 959 Government 46 39 117 Other 19 29 65 Total 378 28 1,346 aPercentages calculated only for scientists who answered each pair of questions. SOURCE: NRC/AAAS Survey; data tabulations by staff. These data also raise the question of what other areas of research, beyond the seven categories specified by the NSABB, the life scientists who took part in the survey felt were dual use research. Like the Fink committee and the NSABB, the committee recognized that the range of life sciences research that could raise dual use concern is potentially greater than that relating directly to microbial threats, which are the focus of both lists. (Another report, Globalization, Biosecurity, and the Future of the Life Sciences (NRC 2006a), addresses this issue directly.) Both the Fink committee and the NSABB also focused on laboratory research. Analysis of the potential threat of a bioterror attack on the U.S. milk supply using botulinum toxin (Wein and Liu 2005), would not fit into any of the seven categories as defined by the Fink committee or the NSABB. Likewise, certain agricultural or pharmaceutical research may be dual use from the standpoint of formulation or dissemination, yet not involve modifying any of the biological properties of an agent in ways that are described by the NSABB or Fink report seven categories. Hence, other categories of research having dual use potential clearly
RESULTS OF THE SURVEY 71 exist, and therefore the possibility that some survey participants con- sidered the theoretical potential of their research as dual use cannot be excluded. More exploration would be needed to understand the basis for the answers to these questions and more clarification will likely be needed on the part of the NSABB and others to define the meaning and scope of dual use research of concern. The next step was to disaggregate the scientists who worked with dual use research, the seven categories of experiments, and select agents to try to gain insight into whether there were scientists working in dif- ferent employment sectors who were most involved in this research. Table 3-4 lists the percentage of respondents for each employment sector who classify their current research as having dual use potential, one of the seven categories of experiments, or a select agent. In all three cases, government scientists were more likely to answer affirmatively. Academ- ics answered similarly to industry scientists except in the case of dual use research, where life scientists in academia were much less likely to report that they were doing dual use research compared with scientists in all other sectors. Summary of Key Results â¢ Sixteen percent of life scientists who responded to the survey con- sidered their current research to have dual use potential. Five percent of these life scientists reported that they were currently working on research involving the seven categories of experiments outlined by the NSABB. Twenty-five percent of the respondents had worked with select agents at some point in their careers (Table 3-1). â¢ Of the three types of research outlined in the preceding item, the relationship among the types is complex. Two percent of scientists who responded to the survey had conducted all three types of research: dual use, one of seven categories of experiments, and work with select agents. Sixty-four percent of the research of these life scientists involved none of these (Table 3-2). â¢ Among the respondents who indicated that their research involved one of the seven categories of experiments, 30 percent of them did not consider their research to be dual use (Table 3-3). â¢ Government scientists who responded to the survey were most likely to report that they have done research involving dual use, the seven categories of experiments, or select agents. Academic scientists who responded to the survey were less likely to say that they were doing research they considered to have dual use potential than any other type of life scientist who responded to the survey (Table 3-4).
72 DUAL USE RESEARCH IN THE LIFE SCIENCES SCIENTISTSâ VIEWS ON BIOTERRORISM Background The survey sought to ascertain the views of members of the life sci- ences community who participated in the survey about bioterrorism because the committee hypothesized that those attitudes, in particular perceptions of the risk of bioterrorism, might affect attitudes toward dual use research and what aspects of research are most likely to contribute to bioterrorism. Attitudes about bioterrorism can be assessed in many ways. For example, there are several possible reference points, including the perceived risk relative to other types of terrorist attacks or other domestic or international risks (e.g., natural disasters, pandemics, climate change, economic downturn, and political violence). Moreover, one can focus on the likelihood of an attack versus the severity of such an attack. Finally, different groups of people, for instance, the general public, the scientific community, or those with specific expertise in either terrorism or biologi- cal weapons, might have different views. Other surveys exemplify the different approaches that have been taken to assess views about bioterrorism. For example, a survey conducted in June 2002, shortly after September 11 and the subsequent anthrax let- ters, found that the public thought bioterrorism was a serious threat to the quality of life in the United States: 74 percent said âVery Serious,â 17 percent said âSomewhat Serious,â 4 percent said âNot Too Serious,â 1 percent said âNot Serious at All,â and 3 percent responded âDonât Know/Refusedâ (Kaiser Family Foundation 2002). This indicated that in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks, the public was quite concerned about the potential for another bioterrorism attack. A subsequent survey conducted by the Council for Excellence in Gov- ernment in February 2004 found that a bioterrorism attack was the most frequently cited by the public as the âtype of possible terrorist attack that most worries meâ: 48 percent said a bioterrorism attack, 37 percent said a chemical weapons attack, 23 percent said a nuclear attack, 21 percent said a suicide bomber, 13 percent said a plane hijacking, 9 percent said a cyberterrorism attack, and 4 percent said they were not sure (Council for Excellence in Government 2004:11).13 A third survey about the nature of the biological weapons threat, focusing on individuals involved in U.S. policy making and conducted during OctoberâNovember, 2006 by the Center for Strategic and Interna- tional Studies (CSIS) reported in part: 13â Note that respondents could select multiple choices.
RESULTS OF THE SURVEY 73 â¢ âBiological weapons are a major threat that is viewed as somewhat increasing, greater than chemical weapons threat and, by a slim majority, a threat greater than or equal to the threat of nuclear weapons. â¢ The top two reasons for an increasing bioweapons threat are the increasing availability of dual use know-how, technology, and equipment and the revolution in the life sciences creating technologies and know- how that makes biological weapons acquisition easier. â¢ A major biological attack is somewhat unlikely within five years and somewhat likely or, according to over a quarter of those surveyed, very likely within a decadeâ (CSIS 2006). Finally, Foreign Policy Magazine, in cooperation with the Center for American Progress, conducted three surveys (one in 2006 and two in 2007) to create its Terrorism Index; approximately the same group of 100 foreign policy experts was surveyed each time.14 In 2006, after asking about the likelihood of a terrorist attack on the scale of September 11 or the attacks in London and Madrid within the next 5 to 10 years, the Foreign Policy Magazine survey asked, âRegardless of what you think about the timing of an attack, what two methods are most likely to be used in America by global terrorists?â Only 9 percent listed a biological weapons attack and 6 percent a nuclear weapon attack while 67 percent of respondents listed a suicide bombing attack and 66 percent listed an attack on major infrastructure. The February 2007 survey did not include questions related to biological terrorism and the September 2007 survey asked a different question from the 2006 survey: âIn your view, what is the single greatest threat to U.S. national security?â Nuclear weapons and nuclear materials were considered the greatest threat (26 percent of respondents), followed by âIslamicism/Al Qaeda/Jihadistsâ at 20 percent. Biological terrorism was considered the single greatest threat by 2 percent of respondents. These previous surveys did not directly focus on ascertaining scien- tistsâ opinions about bioterrorism or their views about the risks posed by advances in research. The current survey allows us to begin to examine whether life scientists, who are technical experts and who may be involved in the management of risk, share the same perceptions of risk as others who drive the formation of public policy. The information may also be useful input for instituting effective educational outreach to scientists. Results and Discussion The first set of questions in the survey focused on views about the likelihood of a bioterror attack. Three questions were posed: 14â Available at http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=221#2.
74 DUAL USE RESEARCH IN THE LIFE SCIENCES â¢ What is the percent chance that an act of bioterrorism will occur somewhere in the world in the next 5 years? â¢ What is the percent chance that an act of bioterrorism will occur in the United States in the next 5 years? â¢ What is the percent chance that knowledge, tools, or techniques from dual use life sciences research will facilitate an act of bioterrorism in the next 5 years? In all three cases, life scientists who responded to the survey reported percentages ranging from 0 to 100 percent, thus indicating a divergence of views. Figures 3-1 to 3-3 present frequencies of responses to these questions. A total of 1,587 respondents answered the three questions. On aver- age, respondents thought that there was a 51 percent chance that there would be an act of bioterrorism somewhere in the world in the next 5 years (Figure 3-1); a 35 percent chance that there would be an act of bioter- rorism in the United States in the next 5 years (Figure 3-2); and a 28 per- cent chance that dual use research would facilitate an act of bioterrorism (Figure 3-3). However, the three figures are not normally distributed. For the first two, the most frequent response is â50 percentâ and in the first 300 250 200 Frequency 150 100 50 0 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 Percent FIGURE 3-1 Frequency distribution for percentage chance of bioterror attack somewhere in the world. Fig 3-1.eps SOURCE: NRC/AAAS Survey; data tabulations by staff. bitmap image with type masked & replaced
RESULTS OF THE SURVEY 75 350 300 250 Frequency 200 150 100 150 0 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 Percent FIGURE 3-2â Frequency distribution for percentage chance of bioterror attack in the United States. Fig 3-2.eps bitmap image SOURCE: NRC/AAAS Survey; data tabulations by staff. with type masked & replaced 250 200 Frequency 150 100 150 0 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 Percent FIGURE 3-3â Frequency distribution for percentage chance of dual use life sci- ences research facilitating a bioterror attack. Fig 3-3.eps SOURCE: NRC/AAAS Survey; data tabulations by staff. bitmap image with type masked & replaced
76 DUAL USE RESEARCH IN THE LIFE SCIENCES figure, the second most frequent response was that the percentage chance of a bioterror attack somewhere in the world was 100 percent. For Figure 3-3 the three most frequent answers, in order, were: 5 percent, 10 percent (also the median), and 50 percent. Further analysis revealed that there was a strong positive correlation between views of the respondents on the likelihood of a bioterror attack in the world and in the United States (r = 0.81). There was also a posi- tive relationship between their views about the role of dual use research in facilitating a bioterror attack and their views on the likelihood of a bioterror attack in the world (r = 0.47) and in the United States (r = 0.49). Part of the explanation for the high correlation between the likelihood of a bioterror attack in the world and in the United States was the assump- tion that individual respondents would view the likelihood of a bioterror attack somewhere in the world as larger than or equal to the likelihood of a bioterror attack in the United States, because the United States is part of the world. If a respondent thought the former was low, he or she ought to also think the latter is low (although if the former were seen as high, it is less clear how a respondent would view the latter).15 As noted above, there is a positive relationship between a respon- dentâs views regarding the likelihood of a bioterror attack occurring and his or her views of the likelihood of dual use research facilitating a bioterror attack. Additionally, a respondentâs research might affect his or her view of whether dual use research could facilitate a bioterror attack. Hypothetically, respondents who work with select agents or dual use research might believe that there is a lower chance of dual use research facilitating a bioterror attack because these scientists do not see this as a serious risk relative to other potential types of bioterrorism involving less sophisticated agents. Conversely, respondents may see a higher risk because they understand how easy it would be to conduct an attack. Appendix Table D-2 compares the average perceived percentage chance that dual use research will facilitate a bioterror attack for respondents who do and do not consider their work to be (1) dual use or (2) within the seven categories of experiments, or (3) work with select agents. As noted previously, for all respondents, the perceived chance was an aver- age of 28 percent. Each of the groups of respondents was essentially the same; that is, the perceived percentage chance for any group was within 3 percent (plus or minus) of the general average. The type of research 15â An examination of the data showed that in 1,029 cases, respondents wrote in a larger percentage for an attack occurring somewhere in the world than for an attack occurring in the United States. The size of the percentages was reversed in only 29 cases. In the remainder of cases, the percentage chance of a bioterror attack was viewed to be the same in the world and in the United States.
RESULTS OF THE SURVEY 77 that the respondents were engaged in did not appear to influence their views regarding the likelihood of dual use research facilitating a bioter- ror attack. The survey then asked a question about the reasons why there have been so few acts of bioterrorism. The question in the survey was: âTo date, there have been few acts of bioterrorism. Which of the following help explain why?â Respondents were given five possible explanations and asked with which they agreed: â¢ Terrorists lack the knowledge to work with or create dangerous biological agents. â¢ Terrorists lack the equipment to work with or create dangerous biological agents. â¢ Terrorists lack access to dangerous biological agents. â¢ Terrorists are deterred by the threat of being caught and punished. â¢ Terrorists prefer to use other means. Figure 3-4 sorts the answers to the five possible explanations, with the highest percentages of âYesâ answers at the top of the chart. Prefer other means Do not have equipment Not knowledgeable Lack access to agents Deterred by punishment 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Yes No Donât Know FIGURE 3-4 Reasons why there have been few acts of bioterrorism. NOTE: Based on 1,588 respondents. SOURCE: NRC/AAAS Survey; data tabulations by staff. Fig 3-4.eps bitmap image with type masked & replaced
78 DUAL USE RESEARCH IN THE LIFE SCIENCES As Figure 3-4 indicates, 75 percent of the respondents believe that ter- rorists prefer other means of attack to the use of biological materials. An even greater majority (87 percent) believe that terrorists are not deterred by the threat of punishment. Just over half of the scientists (51 percent) felt that lack of equipment was a factor limiting bioterrorist attacks. Almost half of the life scientists (46 percent) felt that terrorists lacked the knowl- edge necessary to create a biological agent and carry out a biological attack. Only 36 percent thought that lack of access to biological agents that could be used in a bioterrorist attack was a major reason limiting such attacks, whereas 46 percent felt that access to biological agents was not a critical factor and 19 percent were uncertain. The fact that there is not a strong consensus that limiting access to pathogens and toxins will deter bioterrorism is an interesting result given that the focus of much counter- bioterrorism policy is on increasing security over dangerous pathogens (see, for example, the recommendations of the Commission on the Preven- tion of WMD Proliferation and Terrorism ).16 The findings above may reflect the current situation, in which attacks with conventional weapons predominate, as well as the respondentsâ judgments about terroristsâ knowledge and access to biological agents or equipment. As discussed in Chapter 1, it may also reflect a continu- ing debate over whether the most likely bioterrorist attack would be one that uses little advanced technology, as has been the case historically, and whether that could change in the future through the misuse of beneficial advancing biotechnologies (Frerichs et al. 2004; NRC 2004a, 2006a; Leiten- berg 2005).17 Box 3-1 contains some examples of comments on bioterror- 16â The Commission on the Prevention of WMD Proliferation and Terrorism (2008) reported that âunless the world community acts decisively and with great urgency, it is more likely than not that a weapon of mass destruction will be used in a terrorist attack somewhere in the world by the end of 2013. The Commission further believes that terrorists are more likely to be able to obtain and use a biological weapon than a nuclear weapon.â Among its recommendations the Commission said that âThe United States should undertake a series of mutually reinforcing domestic measures to prevent bioterrorismâ . . . including acting to âpromote a culture of security awareness in the life sciences community.â With regard to the dual use dilemma the Commission said that âthe only way to rule out the harmful use of advances in biotechnology would be to stifle their beneficial applications as wellâand that is not a realistic option. Instead, the dual use dilemma associated with the revolution in biology must be managed on an ongoing basis. As long as rapid innovations in biological science and the malevolent intentions of terrorists and proliferators continue on trajectories that are likely to intersect sooner of later, the risk that biological weapons pose to humanity must not be minimized or ignored.â 17â To date, the known cases of bioterrorism have used relatively unsophisticated approach- es, as in 1984 when followers of the Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh contaminated salad bars at 10 restaurants in The Dalles, Oregon, with Salmonella bacteria and sickened about 750 people (Carus 2000). Publicly available information also suggests that attempts at more sophisticated bioterrorism, such as the research conducted by scientists working with
RESULTS OF THE SURVEY 79 BOX 3-1 Illustrative Respondent Comments on Why There Have Been Few Acts of Bioterrorism âThe information on creating a biohazard already exists in the biologic literature, the internet, college textbooks. The lack of use of these biohazards in terrorism is probably due to the lack of scientific education or the satisfaction of using explo- sives rather than biohazards.â âWhile it is important to have policies regarding oversight of dual use research, the reality is that âterroristsâ that are ideologically driven can come from any walk of life including trained PhDs.â âAll good tools that help mankind can be misused to invoke terror. Dual use is a moral choice. Science should not be hampered because there are evil people in the world. Evil people will always find tools for terror.â ism provided by respondents at the end of the survey in which they were invited to offer open-ended comments on any biosecurity topic. Several hundred comments were offered, and a few examples are provided in this chapter as illustrations; they should not be considered in any way representative of the overall views of respondents. Finally, the survey asked about the sources of information for indi- viduals who might want to cause harm with a biological agent. The overarching question was âDo the following means of communication provide sufficient information for an individual with college-level life science training to deliberately create a harmful biological agent?â The respondents were asked to choose from the Internet, scientific journal articles, personal communication, and presentations. Figure 3-5 summarizes the responses. Half of the life scientists who responded to the survey felt that the Internet could provide sufficient information to be used to deliberately create a harmful biological agent. Forty percent of these life scientists thought the information contained in journal articles would provide sufficient information. A similar pro- portion of life scientists who responded to the survey thought personal communication could provide enough information. Only 18 percent of the respondents thought that material presented at conferences would convey the Japanese terrorist organization Aum Shinrikyo, have not been successful (Leitenberg 1999). The U.S. government has concluded that an American microbiologist working at the U.S. Army Research Institute for Infectious Diseases was responsible for the 2001 anthrax at- tacks, although the level of sophistication involved in the attacks was not high (FBI 2008).
80 DUAL USE RESEARCH IN THE LIFE SCIENCES Internet Scientific journal articles Personal communication Presentations 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Yes No Donât Know FIGURE 3-5â Respondentsâ views on whether sources of information could pro- vide sufficient information for an individual with college-level life science training Fig 3-5.eps to deliberately create a harmful biological agent. NOTE: Based on 1,588 respondents. bitmap image with type masked & replaced SOURCE: NRC/AAAS Survey; data tabulations by staff. BOX 3-2 Illustrative Respondent Comments About Personal Communication and Scientific Journals Providing Information âCertain research endeavors, including constructing pathogens from genetic frag- ments, or âresurrectingâ extinct pathogens and providing public access to sequence data from such experiments are of dubious scientific importance and journals, as well as funding agencies, should severely restrict such projects unless especially convincing justification can be provided.â âIncreasing restrictions on publication of dual use research would be the most effective way of decreasing the amount of dual use research that is performed. That would have the effect of decreasing the possible threats from such research (as well as the benefits).â âIf scientific research is restricted significantly, then we lose in kind the ability of the scientific community to respond to biological emergencies and imperatives. If scientific collegiality shifts toward scientific nondisclosure, everyone loses.â
RESULTS OF THE SURVEY 81 enough information to allow an individual with college-level life science training to deliberately create a harmful biological agent compared to 64 percent who disagreed and 19 percent who were uncertain. There were differing opinions among those responding to the survey regarding concerns about personal communication and scientific journals providing information that could be misused, as illustrated by the com- ments in Box 3-2. Summary of Key Results â¢ On average, life scientists who responded to the survey felt that there was a 51 percent chance that an act of bioterrorism would occur somewhere in the world in the next 5 years and a 35 percent chance that an act of bioterrorism would occur in the United States in the next 5 years (Figures 3-1, 3-2). â¢ On average, life scientists who responded to the survey felt that there was a 28 percent chance that dual use research would facilitate an act of bioterrorism (Figure 3-3). â¢ Analysis showed that views of life scientists who responded to the survey about the chances that dual use research would facilitate a bioterror attack were not affected by the type of research they conducted (Appendix Table D-2). â¢ Life scientists who responded to the survey indicated that they think the reason that there have been few bioterror attacks to date is because terrorists prefer other means (e.g., conventional explosives) and not because they are deterred by punishment (Figure 3-4). â¢ The scientists who responded to the survey were more likely to agree that a reason for the low frequency of bioterror attacks was that ter- rorists lack the knowledge or equipment (46 and 51 percent, respectively); only 36 percent thought lack of access to the agents themselves played a contributing role, indicating that there was not a strong consensus that limiting access to pathogens and toxins would be a strong deterrent to bioterrorism (Figure 3-4). â¢ When asked to choose among sources of information that could potentially enable the creation of a dangerous biological agent, half of the scientists who responded to the survey thought that the Internet would be the most useful source for someone with college-level science training (Figure 3-5).
82 DUAL USE RESEARCH IN THE LIFE SCIENCES CHANGES IN BEHAVIOR IN RESPONSE TO DUAL USE CONCERNS Background One topic of interest to the committee was whether life scientists are already making changes in the conduct of their research and communi- cation as a result of potential risks of bioterrorism. There are reports of scientists choosing to work in different fields or destroying collections of microorganisms in response to the strictures of the select agent rules (Schemo 2002; Fischer 2006). Fischer (2006) states that anecdotal reports and interviews suggest that an uncounted number of individual scien- tists in both academic and government laboratories destroyed pathogen collections prior to the initial select agent registration process. She found that: âAll 28 scientists who responded to the Stimson survey on select agent regulations indicated that they had eliminated at least one research project involving a select agent in response to the new biosecurity regula- tions, and that they personally knew colleagues who had done the sameâ (Fischer 2006:30). She also reports that all respondents had eliminated or changed one or more of their international collaborations in response to the select agent regulations. With specific reference to dual use research of concern, at least one project proposal submitted to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) was reportedly never pursued because the study section raised dual use concerns; the investigators withdrew the proposal (David- son et al. 2007). On the other hand, the only statistic available regarding changes in research communication in response to dual use research of concern is the widely cited figure that, of the 16,000-plus manuscripts reviewed by the 11 journals of the American Society of Microbiology (ASM) since it began screening manuscripts for dual use research, only 4 manuscripts had actually been modified in any way (these were pub- lished with minor modifications) and only 2 others were not published because the authors were unwilling to provide full methodological details (Kaplan 2008).18 In an attempt to gain some empirical evidence about potential changes in behavior, the survey asked: âHave you made any changes in how you conduct or manage research because of concerns that knowledge, tools, or techniques from your research might be deliberately misused to facilitate 18â Publishing a paper without full methods would mean it could not be repeatedâthe ASM considers that not providing full methodological details would undermine science; the position that science is too important to be undermined in this manner was supported by participants in a January 2003 workshop organized by the National Academy of Sciences and the CSIS (see Chapter 1) and by the Journal Editors and Authors Group (2003a,b,c, Fox 2003).
RESULTS OF THE SURVEY 83 bioterrorism?â Nine possible changes were offered on the survey, covering the scientific process from project origination to journal submission: â¢ I decided against conducting a specific research project/experiment. â¢ I decided to shift my research away from an area altogether. â¢ I decided against seeking funding for a proposed research project. â¢ I decided against collaborating with particular scientists, postdocs, students, etc. â¢ I limited my conversations about my research. â¢ I decided against submitting a manuscript to a journal. â¢ I modified a manuscript. â¢ I decided against presenting research at a conference. â¢ I modified a conference presentation. As discussed further below, most members of the committee were surprised by the number of respondents who reported changing how they conduct and communicate their research, and how they think about collaborations because of dual use concerns. Results and Discussion As a first step in the analysis, the nine possible changes were aggre- gated to determine whether any change in research behavior had been made in response to dual use concerns. Fifteen percent (260 out of 1,744) of the respondents who answered this question said they had made one or more changes in their research activities in response to dual use concerns. As noted above, this was a finding that most members of the committee did not expect.19 A number of factors may explain why some scientists have made a 19â An informal poll was taken among attendees at the 2nd International Forum on Bios- ecurity in Budapest, Hungary, in March 2008 to gain anecdotal evidence as to how some members of the biosecurity community viewed the likelihood that scientists in the United States were changing research behaviors in response to dual use concerns. The attendees, most of whom were life scientists, were asked to indicate via a show of hands, âHow many members of the U.S. life sciences community have taken actions to protect dual use research of concern?â These actions included not doing research, altering collaborations, not present- ing data at a meeting, and modifying manuscripts. The results for the 59 attendees who took part were: â Very Few (<10 had made changes) â 43 (73%) â Some (approximately 100) â 15 (25%) â Many (>250) â 1 (2%) â Very Many (>1,000) â 0 (0%).
84 DUAL USE RESEARCH IN THE LIFE SCIENCES TABLE 3-5â Percentage of Respondents Who Made a Change to Their Research on the Basis of Type of Research and Employment Type Made a Change (%) No Yes Observationsa Dual use? No 89 11 1,153 Yes 62 38 213 Seven categories of experiments? No 86 14 1,284 Yes 66 34 82 Works with select agents? No 89 11 1,119 Yes 76 24 453 Employment type Industry 81 19 204 Academia 88 12 1,002 Government 79 21 121 Other 91 9 65 aApplies to respondents who answered pairs of questions (e.g., answered whether the respondent made a change and whether the respondent considered his or her research dual use. SOURCE: NRC/AAAS Survey; data tabulations by staff. change, while others have not. Factors may include a scientistâs beliefs about the responsible conduct of research or the nature of biosecurity threats on the one hand and the nature of his or her research on the other. Variables that might be associated with changing behavior and for which data were collected in the survey included whether a scientistâs research had dual use potential, worked with select agents,20 or could be catego- â A large majority (73 percent) of the participants in this informal poll predicted that fewer than 10 scientists would have modified their behavior due to dual use concerns. Approxi- mately 25 percent of those polled believed that approximately 100 scientists would have modified their behavior. In comparison to this study, the group in Budapest clearly underes- timated the number of U.S. life scientists who reported that they have changed their research behavior in response to dual use concerns. 20â The select agent regulations prohibit foreign nationals from countries designated as sup- porting terrorism from being given access to select agents within the United States. Also, NIH has restricted international collaboration on select agent research unless the foreign
RESULTS OF THE SURVEY 85 rized as one of the seven categories of experiments defined above, and employment sector. To test whether there was a relationship between a respondentâs type of research or employment and whether he or she had made a change, three crosstabs were used, as shown in Table 3-5. As the table shows, respondents who worked with dual use research, the seven categories of experiments, or select agents were at least twice as likely to make a change in their research. Those who said they considered their research to be dual use were 3.5 times more likely to say they had changed their research; those who considered their research to involve the seven cat- egories of experiments identified by the NSABB were 2.4 times more likely to have changed their research; and those who had worked with select agents were only 2.2 times more likely. While work with select agents increased the likelihood of changing research, unlike the findings of Fischer (2006) discussed earlier, only 24 percent of the scientists who responded to the survey reported having worked with select agents also reported changing their research. Industry and government respondents were more likely to make a change in their research than were academic and other respondents. A more detailed look at the behavioral changes that were made indi- cates that many of the actions taken by the life scientists who participated in the survey involved changes in the early stages of research and initial communication of research results prior to submission of a manuscript to a scientific journal (Table 3-6). The table shows that the types of behavioral changes reported by respondents. As Table 3-6 shows, the most likely change in conduct or management of research was to limit conversation about the research (9 percent), fol- lowed by deciding against collaborating with particular scientists, post- doctoral fellows, or students (4 percent) and deciding against conduct- ing a specific research project or experiment (4 percent). Relatively few reported modifying a presentation at a conference (2 percent). The least likely change was to decide against submitting a manuscript for publica- tion (1 percent). Only 2 percent of the respondents indicated that they had modified a manuscript. But even this number is substantially higher than the number commonly cited based upon the experience of the ASM journals. The committee found it disturbing that a few respondents expressed negative views toward foreign scientists, as exemplified in Box 3-3. A correlation matrix (Table 3-7) was created to see if scientists who made one type of change, also made others. Making one change was laboratories meet stringent biosafety and biosecurity standards (see http://www.niaid.nih. gov/ncn/grants/selectterm.htm).
86 DUAL USE RESEARCH IN THE LIFE SCIENCES TABLE 3-6 Types of Changes Scientists Made Because of Concerns That Knowledge, Tools, or Techniques from Their Research Might Be Deliberately Misused to Facilitate Bioterrorism Change Made Frequency Percentage Change in performance of research Decided against conducting a specific research 69 4 project/experiment Decided against seeking funding for a proposed 58 3 research project Decided to shift my research away from an area 49 3 altogether Change in collaboration Decided against collaborating with particular 72 4 scientists, postdocs, students, etc. Change in research communication Limited conversations about research 156 9 Decided against presenting research at a conference 31 2 Modified a conference presentation 40 2 Decided against submitting a manuscript to a journal 24 1 Modified a manuscript 38 2 One or more changes 260 15 Did not make change 1,484 85 Respondents 1,744 â Did not answer 210 â Total 1,954 â NOTES: Based on 1,744 respondents. An individual respondent could select more than one category. Some respondents made only one or a few changes. SOURCE: NRC/AAAS Survey; data tabulations by staff. positively associated with making others, such as deciding not to present research and not submitting a manuscript for publication, or modifying both a presentation and a manuscript. Additionally, respondents who made changes often made multiple ones, as shown in Table 3-8. The results of the survey indicate that more of the respondents to the survey than expected have taken action on security concerns regarding release of dual use information well before publication by limiting their conversations with other scientists and in scientific conference presenta- tions. Clearly these life scientists are sufficiently concerned that their research can be misused that they are acting to limit the risk that dual use research of concern could contribute to bioterrorism. The reported limits on communication and collaborations raise the question of whether dual use research security concerns may be having an impact on the traditional openness that characterizes the conduct of the life sciences.
TABLE 3-7â Correlations Between Changes Scientists Made Shift Research Against Away Not to Not to Not to Conducting From an Seek Not to Limited Submit Modified a Present Modified a Variable a Project Area Funding Collaborate Conversations Manuscript Manuscript Research Presentation Against conducting 1.00 a project Shift research away 0.37 1.00 from an area Not to seek 0.41 0.45 1.00 funding Not to collaborate 0.30 0.28 0.36 1.00 Limited 0.26 0.26 0.24 0.37 1.00 conversations Not to submit 0.25 0.34 0.28 0.37 0.33 1.00 manuscript Modified a 0.21 0.24 0.26 0.28 0.28 0.35 1.00 manuscript Not to present 0.24 0.37 0.29 0.32 0.43 0.65 0.40 1.00 research Modified a 0.17 0.23 0.21 0.33 0.41 0.31 0.58 0.50 1.00 presentation NOTES: This uses phi and is based on 1,744 respondents. SOURCE: NRC/AAAS Survey; data tabulations by staff. 87
88 DUAL USE RESEARCH IN THE LIFE SCIENCES BOX 3-3 Illustrative Respondent Comments About Foreign Scientists âFederal funds should not be used to support dual use research outside of the United States, unless it is through existing programs specifically designed to âre- trainâ former biological weapons scientists, and whose programs are well moni- tored for both fiscal responsibility and scientific progress.â âIt is not in US interest to train nationals of some nations in dual use technology.â âThe largest threat is allowing foreign students and researchers access to all of our academic research labs and knowledge. Much of this knowledge gets exported to scientistsâ home countries through personal communications that are not detected by monitoring scientific publications and meetings. Many countries develop rela- tionships with their scientists that work and live in the US specifically to get access to this information. A mechanism of the US government to work with US scientists to detect and monitor these kinds of activities, as well as greater restrictions to entrance to US institutions by students from certain countries and/or their partici- pation in certain programs of study would be of most benefit in protecting the US from bioterrorism and other losses of security and economic interest.â âFederal funds should not be used to support dual use research outside of the United States, unless it is through existing programs specifically designed to âre- trainâ former biological weapons scientists, and whose programs are well moni- tored for both fiscal responsibility and scientific progress.â TABLE 3-8â Number of Changes Individual Scientists Made Number of Changes Frequency Percentage 0 1,484 85 1 146 8 2 53 3 3 20 1 4 19 1 5 5 <1 6 7 <1 7 3 <1 8 2 <1 9 5 <1 Number Percentage Respondents 1,744 100 Did not answer 210 â Total 1,954 â SOURCE: NRC/AAAS Survey; data tabulations by staff.
RESULTS OF THE SURVEY 89 Summary of Key Results â¢ Fifteen percent of the respondents made one or more changes in their research activities in response to dual use concerns (Table 3-6). â¢ Life scientists responding to the survey who work with dual use research or select agents were more likely to make a change (Table 3-5). â¢ Respondents indicated that they have made changes throughout the scientific process. The most frequent change was to limit conversa- tion with others. The least frequent was to not submit a manuscript for publication (Table 3-5). â¢ Respondents who made changes often made multiple changes. There was also a positive correlation between changes: Scientists mak- ing one type of change were more likely to make other changes as well (Table 3-7, 3-8). RESPONSIBILITY FOR OVERSIGHT Background Debate intensified in late 2001 about who should have responsibility for oversight of dual use research and how the potential misuse of scien- tific research and knowledge in the life sciences should be mitigated. As discussed in greater detail in Chapter 1, some, such as the members of the Controlling Dangerous Pathogens Project at the University of Maryland, have argued that mandatory control at the international level is essential (Harris 2007; Steinbruner et al. 2007). Others have been strongly opposed to any government oversight, arguing that national security requires that scientific research move forward without any interference (Kaplan 2008). Another approach, supported by the Center for Biosecurity (Kwik et al. 2003) and the Fink committee (NRC 2004a), is self-governance and achiev- ing national security objectives using a bottom-up approach that relies on the scientific communityâs own sense of responsibility, although the Fink committee supported an advisory role for the federal government in pro- viding guidelines for appropriate behavior. The NSABB has put forward a proposal for a mixed approach that includes mandatory actions at the levels of research institutions and individual scientists (NSABB 2007). The comments from several respondents in Box 3-4 reflect the continuing debate over the locus, nature, and necessity of responsibility for oversight of research. The survey examined the views of members of the scientific com- munity regarding the allocation of responsibility, with specific questions about the responsibilities of individual scientists, journal editors, profes- sional scientific societies, institutions, funding agencies, and the federal government. Each is examined in turn, with an initial brief description of
90 DUAL USE RESEARCH IN THE LIFE SCIENCES BOX 3-4 Illustrative Respondent Comments About Responsibility for Oversight of Research âI strongly believe that dual use vigilance starts with the researcher and the editors of journals. Therefore extensive education of these groups about the issues and the best practices is urgent. I strongly believe that the role of government should be to primarily serve as an educational unit not a regulatory unit. Creating an advi- sory board that establishes and continually reviews best practices and educational goals is crucial. Oversight should happen at the individual institutional level similar to that of the IRB process with the advisory committee setting best practices for the individual institutional dual use committees.â âRegulations should be designed to encourage self-policing by institutions and principal investigators with some federal oversight. Comparable regulatory exam- ples are radiation, cancerous agent, chemical mutagen, and animal handling.â âThe Federal government should assure that basic standards used or met for dual use research that is based on consensus standards of the research areas. The government assures that the standards have teeth, the researcher communities evolve standards that are contextually appropriate and evolve as knowledge and conditions change.â the issue, followed by discussion and analysis of the results, with the key results listed again at the end. Role of Individuals The survey asked questions about whether life scientists, acting either individually or collectively as members of a scientific or professional soci- ety, can be responsible for biosecurity (self-governance). As discussed in Chapter 1, some measures have been proposed by which scientists could reduce the risk that their research might be misused. To encourage the development of a norm and sense of shared responsibility, some propose that scientists should take an oath similar to the Hippocratic oath that physicians take at graduation (Revill and Dando 2006). One proposal is that scientists should conduct an initial and continued review of research ideas to assess whether they have dual use potential. This is the approach that the NSABB has taken in its Proposed Framework for the Oversight of Dual use Research (NSABB 2007). Another approach would be to have scientists provide assurance to their employers that they are aware of whether their work has dual use potential. Yet another possibility is that
RESULTS OF THE SURVEY 91 BOX 3-5 Illustrative Respondent Comments About the Role of Individuals âPrincipal investigators need to be very careful about possible dual use of their research, and they can be assisted in this by grant reviewers. But formal review and regulation procedures almost certainly will hamper a great deal of innocent research without materially advancing our safety.â âScientists need to understand the potential impact of their actions more than they need national regulations of those actions.â âThere will always be a certain amount of risk associated with gaining knowledge about life. Scientists must allow ethics, rather than fear, to guide them in making responsible research decisions.â scientists should be responsible for training their students and colleagues about dual use issues. These approaches are not mutually exclusive, but each captures a slightly different idea about how individuals might be responsible for addressing dual use concerns. An illustration of some of these views is provided by the comments in Box 3-5. Discussion The survey included four questions to assess views about the respon- sibilities of individual scientists. The answers are displayed in Figure 3-6. Items with the highest percentages of âStrongly Agreeâ and âAgreeâ appear at the top of the chart. Almost 90 percent of the respondents felt that principal investigators (PIs) should be responsible for initial review of their research. A similarly high percentage supported PIsâ taking respon- sibility for training their students about dual use concerns. Fewer than 40 percent supported the use of an oath. As discussed further in subsequent sections, support for voluntary responsible conduct is higher than for mandatory actions. The committee examined the question of whether life scientists who responded to the survey answered these four questions similarlyâthat is, did they uniformly show support for or opposition to individual respon- sibility. Spearmanâs Ï was used between pairs of the variables as seen in Table 3-9. There is a positive correlation between each of the four indi- vidual responsibility variables, which suggests that respondents who sup-
92 DUAL USE RESEARCH IN THE LIFE SCIENCES PIs should be responsible for the initial evaluationof research PIs should be responsible for training lab staff, students and visiting scientists about dual use research Scientists should provide formal assurance to their institution that they are assessing their work for dual use Scientists should take an oath 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree Strongly Disagree FIGURE 3-6â Respondentsâ views on individual responsibility. NOTE: Based on 1,658 respondents, except for âPIs should be responsible for Fig 3-6.eps training lab staff,â which is based on 1,637 respondents. bitmap image staff. SOURCE: NRC/AAAS Survey; data tabulations by with type masked & replaced TABLE 3-9â Correlation Between Variables Relating to Respondentsâ Views on Individual Responsibility Variable Scientists PIs Should Should Scientists PIs Should Conduct Provide Should Train Staff, Initial Formal Take an Students, Variable Evaluation Assurance Oath Etc. PIs should conduct initial 1 evaluation Scientists should provide formal 0.44 1 assurance (1,658) Scientists should take an oath 0.11 0.4 1 (1,658) (1,658) PIs should train staff, students, 0.45 0.37 0.16 1 etc. (1,637) (1,637) (1,637) NOTE: Number of respondents in parentheses. SOURCE: NRC/AAAS Survey; data tabulations by staff.
RESULTS OF THE SURVEY 93 BOX 3-6 Respondent Comments Illustrating Range of Views on Individual Responsibility âIt is extremely difficult to define what constitutes âdual-useâ; many benign materials can become toxic if used improperly. Principal investigators should be responsible for taking general precautions and training, but should not be held responsible for any and all potential use. âPotential useâ is also extremely difficult to define.â âSome inadvertent dual use research will always be a product of research, but some up-front thought about how to report the results would be helpful. I could envision as part of a short course on research ethics for graduate students that dual use research would be a necessary topic.â âIf we donât regulate ourselves and something bad happens, the government is going to forcibly do it.â ported one form of personal responsibility also supported the others. Box 3-6 offers some examples of comments from the respondents, illustrating the range of views among them. Summary of Key Results â¢ Almost 90 percent of the respondents agreed that PIs should be responsible for an initial review of their research and for training their students about dual use concerns (Figure 3-6). â¢ Just under 40 percent of life scientists who responded to the survey agreed that scientists should take a Hippocratic-style oath (Figure 3-6). â¢ Life scientists who responded to the survey tended to support one or more of the other approaches if they supported one of the approaches to individual responsibility noted above (Table 3-9). Role of Journal Editors As discussed in Chapter 1, the question of whether to publish the results of certain experiments that appear to pose potential dual use risks has been at the center of debates over whether open scientific com- munication could provide useful information to terrorists. Beginning in 2003, following a statement by a group of journal editors and scientists (Fox 2003; Journal Editors and Authors Group 2003a,b,c), a number of prominent journals undertook policies to provide for review of manu-
94 DUAL USE RESEARCH IN THE LIFE SCIENCES scripts that potentially raised dual use concerns. The committee wanted to know whether (1) respondents were aware of these policies and (2) if they thought such efforts were appropriate. The survey asked: â¢ Should scientific journals have policies regarding publication of dual use research? â¢ Do the journal(s) in your field require reviewers to evaluate whether manuscripts include knowledge, tools and techniques with dual use potential? âAll of the journals have a policy âSome of the journals have a policy âNone of the journals have a policy âDonât know â¢ Do the journal(s) in your field require authors to disclose any research with dual use potential to editors upon submission of the manuscript? âAll of the journals have a policy âSome of the journals have a policy âNone of the journals have a policy âDonât know â¢ Have you ever contacted an editor because you felt that a manu- script you were reviewing contained knowledge, tools, or techniques that could pose a threat to national security?21 Discussion In response to the question of whether journals should have policies on publication of dual use research, a majority (57 percent) of the 1,755 respondents who answered the question thought that they should, but even here the percentage of âDonât Knowâ responses (19 percent) is larger than for many other questions in the survey.22 Further results are presented in Figure 3-7. Among the respondents, 16 percent thought all or some of the journals in their field had a policy for reviewers to evaluate dual use potential. Fewer life scientists who responded to the survey (12 percent) thought all or some journals had a 21â Respondents could answer ânoâ in two waysâeither because they had not reviewed manuscripts or although they had, they had not contacted an editor. 22â As an interesting aside, the committee wondered whether there might be a positive association between respondentsâ views about how useful scientific journals were in pro- viding information to those wishing to conduct a bioterror attack and respondentsâ sup- port for policies on dual use research for scientific journals. However, no relationship was found (r = â0.07; n = 1,266).
RESULTS OF THE SURVEY 95 Journals require reviewers to evaluate dual use potential? Journals require authors to disclose dual use potential? 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% All of them Some of them None of them Donât Know FIGURE 3-7â Respondentsâ views on whether journals require reviewers to evalu- ate, and authors to disclose, whether manuscripts include knowledge, tools, and techniques with dual use potential.Fig 3-7.eps NOTE: Based on 1,755 respondents.bitmap image SOURCE: NRC/AAAS Survey; data tabulations by staff. with type masked & replaced policy for instructing authors to disclose the dual use potential of their research when submitting a manuscript. The very high percentage of respondents who answered âDonât Knowâ is striking. Even though a number of leading journals (ASM journals, Nature Publishing Group, Science, and PNAS) do have policies regarding review of dual use research, those policies may have not been effectively communicated to the scientific community. Another possibility is that most life scientists who belong to AAAS do not publish in the journals that have policies or have not had the occasion to learn about the policies because their work has not raised dual use concerns. For example, there is no stated biosecurity review policy for Cell, the highest impact journal specific to the life sciences. Or it may be that authors do not pay adequate attention to the instructions to authors. Box 3-7 contains some examples of the open-ended comments from respondents on these issues. The survey also asked whether those who served as journal reviewers had contacted editors with a dual use concern. A total of 1,755 respon- dents answered the question. One percent of respondents said that they had contacted an editor because a manuscript they were reviewing con- tained knowledge, tools, or techniques that they deemed a potential threat to national security. Sixty-three percent said they had not, although they had reviewed manuscripts; the remaining scientists had not reviewed manuscripts.
96 DUAL USE RESEARCH IN THE LIFE SCIENCES BOX 3-7 Illustrative Respondent Comments on Journal Policies on Review of Dual Use Research âDonât be paranoid, but donât be naive either. Many studies should be published that are potentially useful to a determined terrorist but not all; the degree of risk should be assessed. We should not curtail publication that would ultimately help in our defenses. Perhaps, a review board would need to be created for specific journals to advise authors of content that would be of significant harm; this has been done in other disciplines in the past.â âHow can we possibly try to close the door on the free exchange of information at this point?â âThe sequence of the 1918 influenza virus should not have been made public. Although I prefer open publication of all scientific results, some information should be considered too sensitive for open dissemination. That sequence is a recipe for a future terror act.â Summary of Key Results â¢ A majority of life scientists (57 percent) thought journals should have policies on publication of dual use research. â¢ More than two-thirds of life scientists who responded to the sur- vey, however, did not know whether journals in their field had policies to evaluate dual use potential (Figure 3-7). â¢ Sixteen percent of life scientists who responded to the survey thought all or some of the journals in their field had a policy for review- ers to evaluate dual use potential. Twelve percent thought journals had a policy for instructing authors to disclose research with dual use potential to editors when submitting a manuscript (Figure 3-7). â¢ One percent of respondents said that they had contacted an editor because a manuscript they were reviewing contained knowledge, tools, or techniques that they deemed a potential threat to national security. Role of Professional Scientific Societies The survey also asked several questions about views concerning the responsibilities of professional and scientific societies, which appear to be logical candidates for leading activities on addressing conduct of science and educating their members about their professional responsibilities. The Fink report, for example, recommended that ânational and international
RESULTS OF THE SURVEY 97 professional societies and related organizations and institutions create programs to educate scientists about the nature of the dual use dilemma in biotechnology and their responsibilities to mitigate its risksâ (NRC 2004a:4). In recent years, as described in Chapter 1, much of the focus on professional societies has been on the potential contributions of codes of conduct for their members. The 2005 and 2008 intersessional meetings of the Biological Weapons Convention have discussed the contributions of codes of conduct for scientists in preventing the spread of biological weap- ons, with a number of professional societies invited to address plenary sessions during the meetings.23 The survey thus asked scientists whether they believe that professional societies should have codes of conduct and whether the societies to which they belonged had a code. Discussion An overwhelming majority (82 percent) of the 1,743 respondents who answered the question felt that professional scientific societies should have codes for the responsible conduct of dual use life sciences research. Only 9 percent said âNoâ; the remainder responded âDonât Know.â This was an especially interesting finding given the continuing controversy over whether codes are necessary or appropriate for scientists (Rappert 2004; Revill and Dando 2006, 2008; Macrina 2007; Kaplan 2008). (Addi- tionally, there was a statistically significant positive relationship between support for professional societies having codes of conduct and support for an oath [Spearmanâs Ï = 0.18; n = 1,516]. Those who favored a code also tended to agree that scientists should take an oath.) When asked whether they were members of any professional societ- ies that already have codes of conduct that include statements about the responsible conduct of dual use research, however, most (66 percent) of the 1,743 respondents did not know. Sixteen percent said âYesâ and remainder said âNo.â In addition, of the 16 percent of the life scientists in the survey who said they were members of a society with a code of conduct that included dual use research, answers often were inaccurate. Table 3-10 provides a list of the most frequently cited professional soci- eties that respondents believed had a code with a provision addressing dual use research.24 The most frequently cited professional society, ASM, does have a code that addresses actions that might contribute to biological 23â For documents related to the 2005 Meetings of Experts and States Parties, see http:// www.opbw.org/, and for the 2008 meetings, see http://www.unog.ch/80256EE600585943/ (httpPages)/F1CD974A1FDE4794C125731A0037D96D?OpenDocument. 24â For codes of conduct of professional and scientific societies, see http://ethics.iit.edu/ codes/codes_index.php, and the UN Web site cited in the preceding footnote.
98 DUAL USE RESEARCH IN THE LIFE SCIENCES TABLE 3-10 Professional Societies Most Frequently Cited as Having Codes of Conduct Society Frequency American Society of Microbiology 101 American Association for the Advancement of Science 85 American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 12 American Chemical Society 11 Society for Neuroscience 10 American Association of Immunologists 7 American Phytopathological Society 5 Geological Society of America 5 New York Academy of Sciences 5 SOURCE: NRC/AAAS Survey; data tabulations by staff. weapons or bioterrorism, although that code does not explicitly mention the issue of dual use research.25 The next most frequently cited society, AAAS, does not have a code of conduct for its members.26 In fact, no scientific society or professional scientific organization has a code specifi- cally addressing dual use research, although some scientific societies, such as the ASM, American Chemical Society, and the American Phytopatho- logical Society, have codes that cover biological or chemical weapons and preventing the misuse of science, which could include dual use research of concern even though they do not specifically use the term dual use. Summary of Key Results â¢ Eighty-two percent of life scientists who responded to the survey felt that professional scientific societies should have codes for the respon- sible conduct of dual use life sciences research. 25â âASM members are obligated to discourage any use of microbiology contrary to the welfare of humankind, including the use of microbes as biological weapons. Bioterrorism violates the fundamental principles upon which the Society was founded and is abhorrent to the ASM and its members. ASM members will call to the attention of the public or the ap- propriate authorities misuses of microbiology or of information derived from microbiology.â (http://www.asm.org/ASM/files/ccLibraryFiles/FILENAME/000000001596/ASMCodeo- fEthics05.pdf). 26â In the late 1980s, AAAS formally decided against creating a broad code of conduct for their members. Instead, they pledged to help their affiliated societies develop codes of pro- fessional conduct specific for their members. For more information, see http://www.aaas. org/spp/sfrl/committees/csfr/. AAAS continues to issue statements on ethical conduct of scientists and to advocate for scientific integrity and responsibility. For examples of these statements, see http://www.aaas.org/spp/sfrl/per/archives1.shtml, http://www.aaas.org/spp/ sfrl/per/newper, and http://fellowships.aaas.org/04_Become/04_Ethics_Policy.shtml.
RESULTS OF THE SURVEY 99 â¢ Many respondents to the survey (66 percent) did not know if they were a member of a society that had a code. â¢ Many scientists who indicated that the societies they belonged to had a code of conduct identified societies that did not have such a code. Role for Institutions Employers or home institutions are also potential loci for oversight. Although much of the responsibility under the NSABBâs proposed frame- work for oversight of dual use research (NSABB 2007) would rest on indi- vidual scientists, NSABB also anticipates a role for institutions in areas such as reviewing proposals that investigators have identified as posing dual use concerns. Even for government employees, an individual agency might be perceived as a more acceptable choice than the generally defined âfederal government.â The survey asked two questions about whether institutions (as opposed to PIs in earlier questions) should provide edu- cation and training, and whether research institutions should review all grant proposals with dual use potential prior to submission. Discussion Survey participants were asked if they agreed with three statements pertaining to institutional involvement in education and oversight: â¢ University and college students should receive educational lectures and materials on dual use life sciences research including the potential that knowledge, tools, and techniques of such research could pose a threat to national security. â¢ Institutions should provide mandatory training for scientists regarding dual use life sciences research. â¢ All grant proposals for life sciences research with dual use poten- tial should be reviewed by a researcherâs institution prior to submission for funding. The answers to these questions are shown in Figure 3-8, with the responses receiving the highest percentage of âStrongly Agreeâ and âAgreeâ listed at the top. The committee noticed in particular the high level of support (68 percent) for providing education about dual use issues to university and college students. The idea of mandatory training for scientists, which is part of the NSABBâs proposed framework and a recommendation by the Commission on the Prevention of WMD Proliferation and Terror- ism (2008), attracted a majority of support, and fewer than 10 percent strongly disagreed. The idea of a review for dual use potential was less
100 DUAL USE RESEARCH IN THE LIFE SCIENCES Students should receive educational lectures and materials Institutions should provide mandatory training Grant proposals should be reviewed by a researcherâs institution 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree Strongly Disagree FIGURE 3-8 Support for education or training and review of grants by institu- tions. Fig 3-8.eps NOTES: Based on 1,637 respondents, except for âGrant proposals . . .â which was based on 1,633 respondents. bitmap image SOURCE: NRC/AAAS Survey; data tabulations by staff. with type masked and replaced popular, with agreement and disagreement split at 40 percent each and an estimated 20 percent neutral. This may reflect perceived problems with some of the current institutional review bodies (i.e., institutional biosafety committees, institutional review boards, and institutional animal care and use committees) or with uncertainty about how the review process would be implemented. Some illustrative open-ended comments can be found in Box 3-8. Summary of Key Results â¢ There was a high level of support (68 percent) for providing edu- cation about dual use issues to university and college students (Figure 3-8). â¢ The idea of mandatory training for scientists also attracted a major- ity of support (Figure 3-8).
RESULTS OF THE SURVEY 101 BOX 3-8 Illustrative Respondent Comments on Education and Training âI think there are already useful restrictions on potentially harmful agents. The key from here on in is education and awareness.â âI 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.â âDissemination 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).â âTraining is your primary deterrent. If people know and/or recognize potential haz- ards, usually they will report it if the atmosphere is not too detrimental or restrictive and heavy handed.â âEducation, 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.â âGood 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.â Role for Funding Agencies 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.
102 DUAL USE RESEARCH IN THE LIFE SCIENCES Discussion Figure 3-9 presents data from respondents regarding their views about the role of funding agencies. Almost 60 percent of the life scientists who responded to the survey agreed or strongly agreed that funding agencies should ask researchers to attest that they had considered the dual use potential of their work. These life scientists may view treating dual use research issues in grant applica- tions as similar to existing procedures for human, recombinant DNA, and animal research. All of these issues require a paragraph demonstrating that PIs have considered the possible implications of their research and alternative strategies to alleviate any concerns. Examples of comments from respondents are shown in Box 3-9. The question about whether disclosing the dual use potential of oneâs research would negatively affect funding decisions did not elicit consen- sus as noted in Figure 3-10. Over 40 percent of respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed that identifying the dual use potential of oneâs research Strongly Disagree, 6% Strongly Agree, 11% Disagree, 15% Neutral, 19% Agree, 48% FIGURE 3-9â Respondentsâ views on whether funding agencies should require Fig 3-9.eps grantees to attest on grant applications that they have considered dual use impli- cations of their proposed research. NOTE: Based on 1,633 respondents. SOURCE: NRC/AAAS Survey; data tabulations by staff.
RESULTS OF THE SURVEY 103 BOX 3-9 Illustrative Respondent Comments on Review of Grant Applications âI believe strongly in freedom to do research but also believe the safety of the US and world trumps this freedom. To be effective, restrictions should avoid busy work and apply only to directly applicable research. Funding agencies are in the best position to flag applications for dual use research.â âGrants should be reviewed by those knowledgeable in dual use experiments of concern and this information communicated to PIs for consideration and dissemi- nation to PIâs home institution and employees.â âDual research should be submitted and reviewed in special study sections and monitored closely esp. as to research personnel involved.â Strongly Agree, 4% Strongly Disagree, 12% Agree, 19% Disagree, 30% Neutral, 35% FIGURE 3-10â Respondentsâ views on whether funding agencies would be less likely to fund grant proposals if the proposed research has dual use potential. NOTE: Based on 1,633 respondents. 3-10.eps Fig SOURCE: NRC/AAAS Survey; data tabulations by staff.
104 DUAL USE RESEARCH IN THE LIFE SCIENCES TABLE 3-11 Correlation Between Respondentsâ Views on the Role of Specific Institutions and of Other Organizationsâ Responsibility Variable Funding Professional Institutions Grant Agencies Societies Should Proposals Should Should Provide Should Be Require Have Codes Variable Training Reviewed Attestation of Conduct Institutions should provide 1 training Grant proposals should be 0.4 1 reviewed (1,633) Funding agencies should require 0.44 0.47 1 attestation (1,633) (1,633) Professional societies should 0.19 0.17 0.27 1 have codes of conduct (1,503) (1,499) (1,499) NOTE: Number of respondents in parentheses. SOURCE: NRC/AAAS Survey; data tabulations by staff. would have a negative impact on the likelihood that grant proposals would be funded. About a quarter of the respondents (23 percent) agreed or strongly agreed that funding agencies would be less likely to fund research proposals that acknowledged dual use potential, and 35 percent were neutral about the potential impact on funding decisions. A correlation was calculated to find out whether respondents who supported a requirement to attest to dual use potential on grant proposals also expect that such disclosure would not have a negative impact on the prospects for funding. In fact, no relationship was found (Spearmanâs Ï = â0.02, n = 1,633). Support or opposition for disclosing dual use potential in a grant application seems to be unrelated to whether they think it would affect awarding of the grants. The committee also wondered if respondents who thought that one group (professional societies, oneâs home institution, or funding agencies) should take some responsibility for addressing dual use issues thought the other groups should as well. Four questions were compared: support for professional society codes of conduct; home institution review of grant proposals; home institution training; and funding agency require- ments for applicant attestation. Spearmanâs Ï was used and the results are shown in Table 3-11. There are positive correlations between the four pairs of variables. In general, those who support one type of institutional role also tend to support the others.
RESULTS OF THE SURVEY 105 Summary of Key Results â¢ About 60 percent of the respondents agreed or strongly agreed that funding agencies should ask researchers to attest that they had considered the dual use potential of their work (Figure 3-9). â¢ Forty-two percent of the respondents did not think that funding agencies would be less likely to fund grant proposals where the research had dual use potential; only 23 percent felt that there would be a nega- tive impact on funding researchâthe remainder were uncertain (Figure 3-10). â¢ Respondents who supported a role for funding agencies in dual use research oversight also tended to support a role for other organiza- tions (i.e., home institutions and professional societies) (Table 3-11). Role for the Federal Government As discussed in some detail in Chapter 1, one of the most contentious aspects of the proposals for oversight of dual use research is the role of the federal government. A number of models have been offered by which oversight might be carried out, with mixes of voluntary, regulatory, and statutory provisions. Discussion The survey asked whether more federal oversight of research was needed. As shown in Figure 3-11, the respondents did not support an increase in oversight by the federal government; this may be because some equated federal oversight with mandatory regulation, such as the select agent and export control regulations. Thirty-five percent disagreed and 11 percent strongly disagreed compared to 22 percent who agreed and only 4 percent who strongly agreed with increased federal oversight. It may be worth noting that 27 percent reported that they were neutral, which might suggest opportunities for discussion and debate among those not already committed. See Box 3-10. Correlation analyses were conducted to test for an association between support for greater federal oversight, individual responsibility, and roles for institutions and organizations. Note that these analyses test attitudes regarding increased federal oversight versus other types of responsibili- ties. They do not test individual versus institutional responsibilities. The results are shown in Table 3-12. The table indicates that respondents who saw a need for greater federal oversight also tended to agree that others (both scientists and institutions) should play a role but supporting an individual and institutional role in oversight of dual use research does not necessarily imply a role for the federal government.
106 DUAL USE RESEARCH IN THE LIFE SCIENCES Strongly Agree, 4% Strongly Disagree, 11% Agree, 22% Disagree, 35% Neutral, 27% FIGURE 3-11â Respondentsâ views regarding whether dual use research needs greater federal oversight. NOTE: Based on 1,637 respondents. SOURCE: NRC/AAAS Survey; data tabulations by staff. Fig 3-11.eps BOX 3-10 Illustrative Respondent Comments on Federal Oversight âDual use is nothing new, and restrictions on research in the name of preventing a bioterrorist attack is the worst form of censorship and is far more likely to produce greater problems and retard research than it is to foil a potential terroristâfree societies need to remain free, and research needs to proceed without additional controls beyond what is needed to ensure the safety of those performing the re- search and the general public from the research itselfânot unlikely hypothetical misuse of the research by malignant boogie men. By such reasoning, all research could potentially be censored and we could enter a new dark ages.â âAny desire to restrict the scientific pursuit of items that can be ambiguously termed âdual-useâ would be harmful to science in this country. Additional rules for science usage are much riper for abuse of scientists than the âdual-useâ science in the public domain.â âBy restricting research on biological agents that could be used in bioterrorism, we are more likely to prevent knowledge that will protect us from such agents.â
RESULTS OF THE SURVEY 107 TABLE 3-12 Correlation Between Respondentsâ Views Regarding Need for Greater Federal Oversight and Other Actorsâ Responsibility Correlation Between Need for Greater Federal Oversight andÂ .Â .Â . Spearmanâs Ï N PIs should be responsible for initial evaluation 0.03 1,637 of their research Scientists should assure their institutions 0.30 1,637 Scientists should take an oath 0.35 1,637 PIs should train their staff, students, etc. 0.09 1,637 Institutions should provide mandatory training 0.36 1,637 Institutions should review grant proposals 0.38 1,633 Funding agencies should require attestation 0.38 1,633 SOURCE: NRC/AAAS Survey; data tabulations by staff. Different types of respondents might show different levels of support for greater federal oversight. Two methods for disaggregating respon- dents were used: first, the type of research they engaged in; and second, where they were employed. The results are summarized in Table 3-13; the complete results can be found in Appendix Table D-3. As the table shows, respondents who considered their research to be dual use or to involve one of the seven categories of experiments, or who work with select agents were slightly more likely to disagree that greater federal oversight of research was needed. There appeared to be no differ- ence among respondents on the basis of where they worked. In a separate survey addressing a somewhat different question, Profes- sor Victoria Sutton of the Texas Tech University School of Law conducted a national in 2008 survey of PIs and sub-PIs in NIH regional centers of excellence. Professor Sutton asked the researchers their opinions concern- ing the select agent rules (42 CFR Â§73), and the effectiveness of these rules in achieving their regulatory goal of national security and protecting pub- lic health. Of the 201 out of 509 who responded, 93.4 percent agreed that select agents should be regulated (Sutton 2009). These findings support the conclusion Sutton drew from an earlier regional study that found similar levels of agreement: âThis tends to disprove some perceptions among policymakers that biodefense researchers oppose the regulations simply because they do not want to be regulatedâ (Sutton 2007).27 27â Note: The support for regulation of select agents does not reflect satisfaction with the current implementation of the select agent regulations, which Sutton and others have re- ported are burdensome (Council on Government Relations 2003) and problematic for the life sciences community (see Fischer 2006 for a full discussion of the impact of the current select agent regulations on universities and the life sciences community).
108 DUAL USE RESEARCH IN THE LIFE SCIENCES TABLE 3-13â Average Rating, on a Scale of 1 to 5, of Respondentsâ Agreement with Statement That Greater Federal Oversight Is Needed, by Type of Research and Employment Variable Average Works with dual use? Yes 2.5 No 2.7 Works with seven categories of experiments? Yes 2.5 No 2.7 Works with select agents? Yes 2.6 No 2.8 Employer type Industry 2.8 Academia 2.7 Government 2.8 Other 2.8 NOTE: On a scale from 1 (Strongly Disagree) to 5 (Strongly Agree). SOURCE: NRC/AAAS Survey; data tabulations by staff. Summary of Key Results â¢ Only 26 percent of life scientists who responded to the survey felt that dual use research needs greater federal oversight (Figure 3-11). â¢ Life scientists who responded to the survey did not see responsibil- ity as an âeither-orâ proposition: Those that supported greater responsibil- ity by other institutions also tended to support greater federal oversight. For example, those who agreed with a need for greater federal oversight also tended to agree that institutions should review grant proposals (Table 3-12). â¢ Life scientists who responded to the survey who indicated that their research was dual use or that they were working with, or had worked with, select agents were slightly less likely to agree that greater federal oversight is needed. POLICY The final set of questions focused on what policy steps scientists would support to reduce the potential that knowledge, tools, or tech- niques from dual use research could pose a threat to national security. The survey participants were asked whether they would support seven possible measures:
RESULTS OF THE SURVEY 109 â¢ Certification of researchers conducting dual use research; â¢ Greater restrictions on access to specific biological agents or toxins; â¢ Licensure of certain biological equipment that is commonly used in life sciences research; â¢ Restrictions on disclosure of details about the research or its find- ings through personal communication; â¢ Alteration or removal of certain experimental methods or findings prior to publication or presentation; â¢ Restrictions on publication of findings based on dual use potential; and â¢ Classification of research findings based on dual use potential. Discussion The respondentsâ views are depicted in Figure 3-12, again displayed so that those measures with the most âStrongly Agreeâ responses appear Greater restrictions should be placed on access to specific biological agents or toxins Researchers should be certified Some biological equipment should be licensed Publication of findings based on dual use potential should be classified Personal communication should be restricted Certain experimental methods or findings should be altered or removed prior to publication or presentation Publication of findings based on dual use potential should be restricted 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree Strongly Disagree FIGURE 3-12â Respondentsâ views on steps that should be taken to prevent the potential that knowledge, tools, or techniques from dual use research could pose a threat to national security. Fig 3-12.eps NOTE: Based on 1,658 respondents. bitmap image SOURCE: NRC/AAAS Survey; data tabulations by staff. with type masked & replaced
110 DUAL USE RESEARCH IN THE LIFE SCIENCES at the top. There was no clear consensus about proposed measures; none of the proposed measures was able to attract the support of a majority of respondents, although increasing restrictions on access to pathogens received almost 50 percent support. Some illustrative comments from respondents are provided in Box 3-11. Respondents might have different views regarding whether certain policies should be required based upon where they were employed or what type(s) of research they were performing. Two methods for disag- gregating respondents were used: first, the type of research they engaged in; and second, where they were employed. The results are summarized in Table 3-14; complete data can be found in Appendix Table D-4. As the table shows, respondents who conduct one of the three types of research appeared slightly more likely to disagree that many of the BOX 3-11 Illustrative Respondent Comments on Policy Measures âThe federal government should monitor the potential threat of dual purpose results but should not interfere with the scientific process of publication and research.â âItâs hard enough to do research, and additional controls based on dual use fear- mongering will make it even harder.â âWe should remember that several outbreaks of SARS and foot-and-mouth dis- ease are from labs working on these agents. It will not be surprising at all that acts of bioterrorism may eventually be committed by members of research labs where these agents are being studied. The likelihood of state-sponsored bioter- rorism, in my opinion, is low. In this sense, persons who conduct research of dual use biotechnology should be subjected to security clearance to safe-guard the appropriate use of the technology.â âBioterrorism is a real and horrible threat to all of us. We all want to be safe. The challenge for all of us is to implement measures that will be meaningful and effec- tiveânot âfeel goodâ approaches that will inhibit research without making a positive impact on safety.â âThe risks are real but I worry that the âsolutionâ could be worse.â âIf I had one sentence, it would include a caution that how we anticipate and prevent such a threat from occurring is being driven by reasoning rather than by fear.â
TABLE 3-14â Average Rating, on a Scale of 1 to 5, of Respondentsâ Agreement with Statement That a Particular Policy Is Needed, by Type of Policy and Respondent Restrictions Modification of Certification Restrictions Licensure of on Personal Manuscripts or Restrictions on Classification Variable of Researchers on Access Equipment Communication Presentations Publications of Findings Works with dual use? Yes 2.8 2.9 2.2 2.2 2.4 2.3 2.3 No 3.1 3.2 2.4 2.4 2.4 2.5 2.6 Works with seven categories of experiments? Yes 2.8 2.9 2.1 2.5 2.5 2.2 2.4 No 3.0 3.1 2.4 2.4 2.4 2.4 2.6 Works with select agents? Yes 3.0 3.0 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.5 2.6 No 3.1 3.3 2.5 2.5 2.5 2.5 2.7 Employer type Industry 3.0 3.4 2.5 2.7 2.7 2.7 2.9 Academia 3.0 3.1 2.3 2.4 2.4 2.4 2.6 Government 3.1 3.4 2.6 2.6 2.6 2.5 2.7 Other 3.0 3.2 2.6 2.4 2.5 2.4 2.8 NOTE: On a scale from 1 (Strongly Disagree) to 5 (Strongly Agree). SOURCE: NRC/AAAS Survey; data analysis by staff. 111
112 DUAL USE RESEARCH IN THE LIFE SCIENCES policies should be required. No difference was discerned regarding where the respondents were employed. The committee wondered if there might be an association between scientistsâ responses to this question and their views about the role of different types of information in allowing individuals to create danger- ous biological agents. We hypothesized that relationships might exist between 1. Scientistsâ support for altering or removing methods or findings prior to publication or presentation and positive answers to presentations providing sufficient information, 2. Scientistsâ support for restrictions on publications and positive answers to scientific journal articles providing sufficient information, 3. Scientistsâ support for restrictions of disclosure of details through personal communications and positive answers to personal communica- tions providing sufficient information. The results of a correlation analysis using Spearmanâs Ï to test these relationships are provided in Table 3-15. As Table 3-15 shows, there is only a small positive relationship between supporting a restriction on a source of information and believing that the source is particularly useful to people with malevolent intentions. It is worth remembering that none of the policy options here, as opposed to some of the other measures discussed in earlier sections, attracted strong support, so it could be the TABLE 3-15â Correlation Between Respondentsâ Views on Policy Options and Their Views About the Role of Different Types of Information in Allowing Individuals to Create Dangerous Biological Agents Source of Information Personal Support for Restriction Journals Presentations Communication Restrictions on disclosure of details 0.18 through personal communication (1,107) Alteration or removal of methods or 0.12 0.11 findings prior to publication or (1,266) (1,294) presentation Restrictions on publication of findings 0.16 (1,266) NOTE: The number of respondents is listed in parentheses. SOURCE: NRC/AAAS Survey; data analysis by staff.
RESULTS OF THE SURVEY 113 scientistsâ doubts about the measures themselves that explain the weak relationship. Summary of Key Results â¢ None of the seven policy measures attracted a majority of support from survey respondents, although increasing restrictions on access to pathogens received almost 50 percent support (Figure 3-12). â¢ Respondents who worked with dual use research often were less likely to favor the policies (Table 3-14). CONCLUDING REMARKS This chapter has presented the results of our survey of a sample of AAAS members in the life sciences. The key results for each topic addressed in the survey have been presented. In a number of cases, additional statistical analyses were performed to explore possible expla- nations for the results and these are presented in the relevant sections. Some of the results support assumptions that the committee made about likely responses and some of the results were surprising to at least some of the committee members. The next chapter presents a synthesis of the key results from the survey as well as the committeeâs conclusions about what they may mean for policies to reduce the risks that the results of research in the life sciences will be used for malign purposes. The chapter concludes with the committeeâs recommendations for further research and actions related to outreach and education.