Rekindling the debate over the interference of politics in scientific research, the us National Academy of Sciences (nas) disregarded the caution of the us Health and Human Services Department (hhsd) and published a report on June 28, 2005, on the possibilities of the country's milk supply being poisoned by botulinum toxin. Authored by Lawrence Wein and Yifan Liu of Stanford University, California, the study elucidates how even a small amount of botulinum, a potential biological weapon forged from bacteria, can poison as many as 500,000 people. It also suggests ways to avert the danger: better pasteurisation, careful sampling and increased security.
hhsd believes the publication might provide new ideas to attackers. It had forced nas to withdraw an embargoed media release of the study in May 2005. Subsequently, nas held a meeting with officials to discuss the issue of confidentiality of research related to biological or chemical warfare. "The nas Council decided to publish the article...accompanied by an editorial to make clear our reasons for doing so," says nas president Bruce Alberts.
We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.
Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.