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Scientists agree to moratorium on flu research

The world's major researchers on the H5N1 avian flu virus have agreed to a 60-day moratorium on their work "to allow time for international discussion." The announcement comes after a request by the federal National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity that Science and Nature not publish certain aspects of papers under review involving certain mutations that can make the H5N1 virus more easily transmissible. The scientists involved "grudgingly" agreed, although the journals are exploring ways to make the relevant study details available to other researchers in the field. The World Health Organization will convene a meeting in late February to discuss the issues surrounding the case. The move hearkens back to a self-imposed moratorium by recombinant DNA researchers in 1975, leading to a meeting in Asilomar, CA, where scientists drafted guidelines for genetic engineering. Find details at Science's website, "Public Health, Biosecurity, and H5N1."

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