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[BOAI] biodefense and self-censorship

From: Bernard Lang <Bernard.Lang AT>
Date: Mon, 17 Feb 2003 13:10:07 +0100

Threading:      • This Message
             Re: [BOAI] biodefense and self-censorship from rmelero AT

Without comments, you will find below:

- an editorial from Nature (15 February 2003)
   Statement on the consideration of biodefence and biosecurity

- un article de l'AFP en francais sur le meme sujet
   Science et terrorisme : les revues scientifiques appellent à la prudence

Comments welcome
Tous commentaires bienvenus


NATURE| 15 FEBRUARY 2003  (advance online publication)

 This article will appear in the 20 February 2003 issue of Nature. The
full citation for it is "Nature 421, 771 (2003);
 advance online publication, 15 February 2003.


 Statement on the consideration of biodefence and biosecurity

 As discussed in a Commentary by Tony Fauci on page 787, the threat of
bioterrorism requires active consideration by scientists. On 9 January
2003, the US National Academy of Sciences held a discussion meeting on
the balance between scientific openness and security (see Nature 421,
197; 2003). The next day, a group of editors met to discuss the issues
with specific reference to the scientific publication process. The
following statement has emerged from that meeting. The statement was
conceived in a US context, but the principles discussed will be
considered and followed through by Nature and its related journals in
their international arenas.

 The process of scientific publication, through which new findings
are reviewed for quality and then presented to the rest of the
scientific community and the public, is a vital element in our
national life. New discoveries reported in research papers have helped
improve the human condition in myriad ways: protecting public health,
multiplying agricultural yields, fostering technological development
and economic growth, and enhancing global stability and security.

 But new science, as we know, may sometimes have costs as well as
benefits. The prospect that weapons of mass destruction might find
their way into the hands of terrorists did not suddenly appear on 11
September 2001. A policy focus on nuclear proliferation, no stranger
to the physics community, has been with us for many years. But the
events of 11 September brought a new understanding of the urgency of
dealing with terrorism. And the subsequent harmful use of infectious
agents brought a new set of issues to the life sciences. As a result,
questions have been asked by the scientists themselves and by some
political leaders about the possibility that new information published
in research journals might give aid to those with malevolent ends.

 Journals that dealt especially with microbiology, infectious agents,
public health and plant and agricultural systems faced these issues
earlier than some others, and have attempted to deal with them. The
American Society for Microbiology, in particular, urged the National
Academy of Sciences to take an active role in organizing a meeting of
publishers, scientists, security experts and government officials to
explore the issues and discuss what steps might be taken to resolve
them. In a one-day workshop at the Academy in Washington on 9 January
2003, an open forum was held for that purpose. A day later, a group of
journal editors, augmented by scientist-authors, government officials
and others, held a separate meeting designed to explore possible

 What follows reflects some outcomes of that preliminary
discussion. Fundamental is a view, shared by nearly all, that there is
information that, although we cannot now capture it with lists or
definitions, presents enough risk of use by terrorists that it should
not be published. How and by what processes it might be identified
will continue to challenge us, because Ñ as all present acknowledged Ñ
it is also true that open publication brings benefits not only to
public health but also in efforts to combat terrorism.

 The statements

 First: The scientific information published in peer-reviewed research
journals carries special status, and confers unique responsibilities
on editors and authors. We must protect the integrity of the
scientific process by publishing manuscripts of high quality, in
sufficient detail to permit reproducibility. Without independent
verification Ñ a requirement for scientific progress Ñ we can neither
advance biomedical research nor provide the knowledge base for
building strong biodefence systems.

 Second: We recognize that the prospect of bioterrorism has raised
legitimate concerns about the potential abuse of published
information, but also recognize that research in the very same fields
will be critical to society in meeting the challenges of defence. We
are committed to dealing responsibly and effectively with safety and
security issues that may be raised by papers submitted for
publication, and to increasing our capacity to identify such issues as
they arise.

 Third: Scientists and their journals should consider the appropriate
level and design of processes to accomplish effective review of papers
that raise such security issues. Journals in disciplines that have
attracted numbers of such papers have already devised procedures that
might be employed as models in considering process design. Some of us
represent some of those journals; others among us are committed to the
timely implementation of such processes, about which we will notify
our readers and authors.

 Fourth: We recognize that on occasions an editor may conclude that
the potential harm of publication outweighs the potential societal
benefits. Under such circumstances, the paper should be modified, or
not be published. Scientific information is also communicated by
other means: seminars, meetings, electronic posting, etc. Journals and
scientific societies can play an important role in encouraging
investigators to communicate results of research in ways that maximize
public benefits and minimize risks of misuse.

 Ronald Atlas, President, American Society for Microbiology (ASM), and
Editor, CRC Critical Reviews in Microbiology
 Philip Campbell, Editor, Nature
 Nicholas R. Cozzarelli, Editor, Proceedings of the National Academy
of Sciences
 Greg Curfman, Deputy Editor, New England Journal of Medicine
 Lynn Enquist, Editor, Journal of Virology Gerald Fink, Massachusetts
Institute of Technology
 Annette Flanagin, Managing Senior Editor, Journal of the American
Medical Association, and President, Council of Science Editors
 Jacqueline Fletcher, President, American Phytopathological Society
 Elizabeth George, Program Manager, National Nuclear Security
Administration, Department of Energy
 Gordon Hammes, Editor, Biochemistry
 David Heyman, Senior Fellow and Director of Science and Security
Initiatives, Center for Strategic and International Studies
 Thomas Inglesby, Editor, Biosecurity and Bioterrorism
 Samuel Kaplan, Chair, ASM Publications Board Donald Kennedy, Editor, Science
 Judith Krug, Director, Office for Intellectual Freedom, American
Library Association
 Rachel Levinson, Assistant Director for Life Sciences, Office of
Science and Technology Policy
 Emilie Marcus, Editor, Neuron
 Henry Metzger, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal
and Skin Diseases, National Institutes of Health
 Stephen S. Morse, Columbia University
 Alison O'Brien, Editor, Infection and Immunity
 Andrew Onderdonk, Editor, Journal of Clinical Microbiology
 George Poste, Chief Executive Officer, Health Technology Networks
 Beatrice Renault, Editor, Nature Medicine
 Robert Rich, Editor, Journal of Immunology
 Ariella Rosengard, University of Pennsylvania
 Steven Salzburg, The Institute for Genome Research
 Mary Scanlan, Director, Publishing Operations, American Chemical Society
 Thomas Shenk, President-Elect, ASM, and Past Editor, Journal of Virology
 Herbert Tabor, Editor, Journal of Biological Chemistry
 Harold Varmus
 Eckard Wimmer, State University of New York at Stony Brook
 Keith Yamamoto, Editor, Molecular Biology of the Cell


Science et terrorisme : les revues scientifiques appellent à la prudence
    par Pascal BAROLLIER

    DENVER (Etats-Unis), 15 fév (AFP) - Les directeurs des principales
revues scientifiques mondiales ont appelé samedi à la prudence et à la
vigilance quant à la publication d'études potentiellement exploitables
par des terroristes pour la mise au point d'armes chimiques ou
    Ces responsables de grandes revues, plutôt que de se voir soumis à
une réglementation gouvernementale limitant leurs libertés, ont appelé
les scientifiques à une «auto-discipline», dans le choix des études
publiées et les détails fournis dans ces publications.
    Comment peut-on définir la «science dangereuse»? s'interrogent les
scientifiques en estimant que le risque est difficile à cerner.
    Néanmoins «tous les travaux qui pourraient être utilisés par des
terroristes dans des buts néfastes ne doivent pas être publiés»,
écrivent les chercheurs dont le communiqué conjoint a été présenté
samedi par Ron Atlas, président de la Société américaine de
    Pour ce faire, estiment les responsables scientifiques,
«chercheurs et revues devraient considérer la mise en place d'un
processus pour l'examen des travaux à risque, et si le risque
potentiel est supérieur aux bénéfices, les directeurs de publication
devraient modifier les articles ou refuser de les publier».
    Les signataires du texte soulignent cependant que les revues
doivent «protéger l'intégrité du processus scientifique en publiant
des travaux de haut niveau, avec suffisamment de détails pour
permettre (à ces travaux) d'être reproduits».
    Sans la possibilité d'une vérification indépendante des résultats
exposés, ont-ils insisté, «nous ne pouvons ni faire avancer la
recherche biomédicale, ni fournir les connaissances pour construire
des systèmes de défense biologique forts».
    Ce communiqué conjoint a été publié à Denver (Colorado, ouest)
lors de la réunion annuelle de l'Association américaine pour les
progrès de la science (AAAS).
    Il doit être reproduit la semaine prochaine par les revues
scientifiques signataires, parmi lesquelles les Comptes rendus de
l'Académie nationale des sciences (PNAS) américaines, les revues
britannique Nature et américaine Science.
    Cette prise de position résulte d'une réunion entre les principaux
éditeurs de revue scientifique organisée les 9 et 10 janvier à
Washington sous l'égide de l'Académie nationale des sciences et du
Centre pour la sécurité et les études internationales (CSIS), à la
demande de la Société américaine de microbiologie qui s'inquiétait
d'une volonté du gouvernement américain de réglementer les
publications scientifiques dites «sensibles».
    «Il reste vrai que la publication ouverte bénéficie non seulement
à la santé publique mais aussi aux efforts de lutte contre le
terrorisme», ont souligné les auteurs du texte.
    Dans un éditorial qui accompagnera sa publication dans la revue
Science, son directeur Donald Kennedy rappelle que les tensions entre
communauté scientifique et responsables de la sécurité ne sont pas
nouvelles. Elles «ont émergé d'une façon très problématique au début
des années 80» quand des réglementations pour empêcher le transfert de
technologies vers les pays communistes ont été appliquées à la
recherche fondamentale.
    Tout en constatant «le gouffre entre les communautés scientifiques
et responsables de la sécurité» M. Kennedy a appelé «les deux
communautés à se rassembler pour le bien commun».


         Non aux Brevets Logiciels  -  No to Software Patents
           SIGNEZ    SIGN

Bernard.Lang AT             ,_  /\o    \o/    Tel  +33 1 3963 5644  ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^  Fax  +33 1 3963 5469
            INRIA / B.P. 105 / 78153 Le Chesnay CEDEX / France
         Je n'exprime que mon opinion - I express only my opinion

Re: [BOAI] biodefense and self-censorship

From: Reme Melero <rmelero AT>
Date: Wed, 19 Feb 2003 10:20:25 +0100

Threading: [BOAI] biodefense and self-censorship from Bernard.Lang AT
      • This Message

[Note from the moderator:  A general discussion of bioterror and censorship is 
beyond the topic of the BOAI Forum.  The larger discussion is important to 
science and society, and should proceed.  But I hope that we can keep our 
discussion here closely connected to open access issues, for example, the 
possibility that free self-archiving of preprints will defeat the purpose of 
security-driven censorship of postprints.  --Peter Suber.]

A couple of comments:

First of all,  bioterrorism or terrorism existed before 11 September and 
still exist after that. I mean , people should aware of that not only 
because it happened in the States. But, why now this interest and not 
before? Is it not a question of bias?

Misuse? Abuse? Authors and editors do not publish their works with 
those aims, who want to and on purpose look for the means employing any 
tool, I presume.

I do not thing “closing doors” is the solution, especially now, when the 
system is questioning the access and dissemination of science and 
scientific communication in general,  and claiming for open access to 
the scientific publications, it does not seem the best. Question: who is 
going to censure? Who is going to control what and what not to publish? 
Again bias and fraud two issues discussed in any “publishing atmosphere
forum” come up.

This  the opinion of an editor based in Spain.

R. Melero
Managing Editor
Food Science and Technology International
PO BOX 73 46100 Burjasot, Valencia, Spain
TEl +34 96 390 00 22. Fax 96 363 63 01

Bernard Lang wrote:
> Without comments, you will find below:
> - an editorial from Nature (15 February 2003)
>    Statement on the consideration of biodefence and biosecurity
> - un article de l'AFP en francais sur le meme sujet
>    Science et terrorisme : les revues scientifiques appellent à la 
> Comments welcome
> Tous commentaires bienvenus
> Bernard


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