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U.S. Releases Policy Requiring Dual-Use Biological Research Reviews Amid Bird Flu Debate

“The U.S. government [on Thursday] released a new policy [.pdf] that will require federal agencies to systematically review the potential risks associated with federally funded studies involving 15 ‘high consequence’ pathogens and toxins, including the H5N1 avian influenza virus,” Science Insider reports. “The reviews are designed to reduce the risks associated with ‘dual use research of concern’ (DURC) that could be used for good or evil,” the news service writes (Malakoff, 3/29).

According to the Associated Press/ABC News, “The policy lays out steps to help scientists and government agencies determine which projects raise particular concerns about biosecurity and how to ensure that risks from the research are carefully managed from the start” (Neergaard, 3/29). “The launch of the new policy … comes while a U.S. biosecurity advisory group is meeting to discuss the latest version of two H5N1 transmission papers, one by a group from Erasmus University in the Netherlands and one by a team from the University of Wisconsin, Madison,” CIDRAP News notes (Schnirring, 3/29).