I suggested in the first blog in this series that some of the members of the NSABB wanted to censor the two reports about easily transmissible H5N1 due to blind, unreasoning fear.
Why blind? Because the members do not understand where the real risks of biological weapons come from. For starters, they don’t appear to know how modern biological weapons are likely to be built. Even though smallpox is supposedly contained in exactly two freezers, one in Russia and one in the US, it could be reconstructed from sequence alone. How? With a DNA synthesizer, a machine which can make genes based on whatever sequence is typed into a computer. These machines are to modern biological weapons what gas centrifuges are to nuclear weapons: highly complex enabling machinery.
So, given the hysteria about merely publishing H5N1 sequences, one might ask: What kind of strict safeguards are there to prevent DNA synthesizers from falling into the wrong hands? The answer:
You can buy them on ebay. I kid you not.
The gas centrifuges of the biological weapons world can be had by anyone for the less than the price of a Lexus with absolutely no questions asked. Where was the NSABB when the decison was made to let anyone, anywhere buy machines that could produce the nastiest virus anyone could think of?
The NSABB members are not reasoning correctly. If they want to stop biological weapons production, they should stop the export of the machines that will be used to make them.
Right now, all they are accomplishing is stopping the spread of knowledge that could be used to protect against weaponised flu.