Education ForumBiosecurity

Educating Scientists About Dual Use

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Science  27 Nov 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5957, pp. 1193
DOI: 10.1126/science.1176127

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In 2004, the U.S. National Research Council (NRC) described the dual use dilemma, the recognition that some legitimate biological research could be misapplied for harmful purposes (e.g., biological weapons) (1). The U.S. government's National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) has released recommendations on communicating, overseeing, and educating about such research (2, 3). The Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism ( recommended that the dual use dilemma and biosafety be taught to all life scientists (4). Many other countries have instituted policies to support education (5). The UK asks scientists seeking grants if they have considered the dual use implications of their work (6, 7). Biosecurity and dual use research education programs are being developed in Japan, Brazil, and Morocco (8). At the 2008 intersessional meetings of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), representatives from over a dozen countries acknowledged support for education on biosecurity and biosafety and described education efforts within their nations (8). Mandatory education on the dual use dilemma has been supported by the Australian National University (9) and is required by law in Israel (10). Although these developments represent significant progress, there are still major gaps.