Evaluating Classified Biodefense Research

“Classified research constitutes a much smaller portion of the U.S. biodefense program than many might suspect,” according to Gerald L. Epstein, a specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“Nevertheless, classified DHS biodefense research will constitute one of the most controversial parts of the U.S. biodefense program,” he observed in Congressional testimony (pdf) earlier this month.

“Even more so than in other areas of science, the biological sciences have enjoyed a tradition of openness and international collaboration–and this heavy presumption of openness should continue. Since disease continues to kill millions of people around the world each year, any restrictions on relevant scientific knowledge could have serious consequences,” he told a House Science Subcommittee.

“Yet the existence of hostile, witting adversaries that are determined to wreak devastation and that are known to be interested in biological weapons mandates that this openness not be absolute.”

In March 8 testimony (at pp. 6-8), Dr. Epstein presented his views on how to reconcile these conflicting imperatives.

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