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Flu Controversy Spurs Research Moratorium

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Science  27 Jan 2012:
Vol. 335, Issue 6067, pp. 387-389
DOI: 10.1126/science.335.6067.387

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Summary

A group of leading influenza researchers last week agreed to a 60-day moratorium on some sensitive studies involving the H5N1 avian influenza virus "to provide time" for international discussions. "We recognize that we and the rest of the scientific community need to clearly explain the benefits of this important research and the measures taken to minimize its possible risks," the 39 researchers wrote in a statement published by Science and Nature (see p. 400). The scientists—who represent the world's major H5N1 research centers—have agreed to halt several types of studies, including experiments that could create H5N1 viruses that move more easily between mammals. Flu experts are also helping to organize a summit on the issue, which is expected to involve about 50 experts.

  • * With reporting by Martin Enserink, Gretchen Vogel, and Jon Cohen.