Part 1. Recall that a few years ago the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) delayed publication of a paper on the safety of the nation’s milk supply at the government’s request; DHS officials were concerned that information in the paper could be useful to people plotting acts of terrorism. Listen to the NPR audio here: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4726666 and read the following paper by Dr. Lawrence Wein, author of the controversial paper exposing the vulnerabilities of the national dairy supply chain: http://www.pnas.org/content/102/28/9984.long Then consider and respond to the following:
What is Wein’s bottom line in his PNAS paper, and do you agree with his recommendations? If not, what are potential alternatives?
What was surprising/most interesting to you?
Finally, given the challenges of dealing with the federal government how might Wein’s recommendations gain better access to the decision-makers and have a better chance at becoming a reality?
Part 2. Also read and review ‘The Bugs of War,’ found in the eReserves.. You may also recall from your past readings the theme of Huxley’s novel Brave New World — an examination of the advancement of science and the potential for man to move ever-closer to self-destruction, as we push perhaps higher than we can climb and potentially unleash power we might be unable to control. Thinking along these lines, please review and respond to these points related to synthetic biology and the bugs of war:
The article suggests that while conventional bioweapons are more of a current concern than their bioengineered synthetic counterparts, the threat they pose will only increase as we continue to press the technology envelope: What are some of the vital means to keep technology from being used in subverted ways?
Knowing that science has largely been incremental in nature, and each advance likely builds upon earlier results, where would you as a publisher of a paper on a novel synthetic biology innovation yet to occur draw the line to publish? What are some of the criteria that would define your line between national security and scientific openness?
In the time since ‘Bugs’ was published, what updates/additional developments can you find in the way of detection technologies that were mentioned (i.e. Sandia’s Rapid Syndrome Validation Project) Please try to find one of interest to you.
As always, your interaction and passionate responses are welcome, appreciated and, oh, required! 🙂