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Why Do Pathogen Researchers Face Less Scrutiny Than Nuclear Scientists? 227 227

Lasrick writes "Derrin Culp of the National Center for Disease Preparedness explores the different levels of scrutiny that scientists in microbiology undergo, when compared to those who work in the nuclear weapons field. His complaint is that, even though America's most notorious biosecurity breach — the 2001 anthrax mailings — was the work of an insider, expert panels have concluded that there is no need for intrusive monitoring of microbiologists engaged in unclassified research."
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Why Do Pathogen Researchers Face Less Scrutiny Than Nuclear Scientists?

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  • by davester666 (731373) on Saturday April 06, 2013 @09:28PM (#43381895) Journal

    What is intrusive anymore?

    Things you don't need a warrant for:
    -tracking someones travels via their cell phone
    -reading their email
    -any call that originates from another country or is destined for another country can be monitored/recorded
    -who they have called/texted
    -any and all business records [actually, are there ANY limitations on NSL's?]
    -lots of other stuff, based on secret interpretations of laws, cherry picked from "friendly" lawyers, which you are not permitted to know about

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 06, 2013 @11:16PM (#43382345)

    Apocalyptic plagues are an evolutionary dead end. If it kills quickly and surely enough to be a weapon, it's not a particularly fit organism because its host will tend to die before they can infect others.

    I'm far more scared of pathogens than nukes, though, and I don't think this idea deserves the derision it's getting. Prion diseases, for example, are really terrifying stuff. The kuru strain of the CJD prion, for example, exhibited an incubation period of between 5 and 20 years. If you were really determined, you could get that disease into a lot of people before it started showing itself.

    Look up Biopreparat. Look up the Marburg virus. This is very useful, very worthwhile research which we should be spending a great deal of effort on, but it's also the kind of research that could end up destroying a civilisation. Is it really so terrible to suggest that perhaps we should be a little more protective than we already are?

  • by Samantha Wright (1324923) on Sunday April 07, 2013 @03:07AM (#43382893) Homepage Journal

    No, a static virus would be recognized by the body too quickly. The immune system constantly circulates a huge pool of antibody-producing cells, each of which detects a different target (antigen). If something gets detected, then the antibody-producing cell responsible is told to reproduce aggressively. The memory functionality is simply accomplished by keeping more of that cell line around. It's like a very basic single-layer neural network. Short of killing the entire organism simultaneously, no static virus can be effective. Even HIV, a very rapidly-mutating virus, has problems overcoming the immune system immediately following an infection.

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