Federation of American Scientists Case Studies in Dual Use Biological Research Module 2.0: Poliovirus Case Study
Topic: Public Reaction Subtopic: Congressional Response

At the height of the public and media response, a congressional resolution was introduced that condemned the study as a threat to national security. This action typified the initial public reaction following publication of the synthesis of poliovirus. Congress called on scientists, journals and funding agencies to reassess the release of certain scientific information.
The Congress expresses serious concern regarding the decision by the American Association for the Advancement of Science and editors of "Science Express" to publish a blueprint that could conceivably enable terrorists to inexpensively create human pathogens for release on the people of the United States.

The scientific community should develop ethical standards and exercise restraint to ensure that information that may be used by terrorists is not made widely available.

It was clear that Congress was looking to the scientific community to take the necessary steps to address what was being termed “sensitive” research and to establish norms governing its publication.

Image of the Capitol
Congressional Response Image

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Topic History and Biology of Poliovirus De Novo Synthesis of Poliovirus Public Reaction Discussion References Home