A committee of experts examined about a dozen different synthetic biology technologies that could be potentially misused. For each, they considered how likely it was to be usable as a weapon.
After an unusual three-year moratorium, the federal government says it will once again allow research on deadly viruses that could spark pandemics. The work has sparked concerns about bioterrorism.
The National Academies of Sciences says not enough has been done to keep legitimate research on pathogens and toxins from being misappropriated and turned into biological weapons.
The Government Accountability Office says that Homeland Security's BioWatch system, deployed in 30 U.S. cities, has issued dozens of false alarms since its introduction in 2003.
A previously unknown form of botulinum toxin thought to be resistant to standard treatment raised public health concerns. Subsequent research has allayed those fears.
Frustrated scientists argued Wednesday that making nasty viruses even worse in the lab provides crucial insight into preventing pandemics. Others say it just ups the risk a lab germ will start one.
The sloppy handling by federal scientists of the world's scariest germs must stop, says the dismayed head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Are his new rules enough?
"If smallpox is outlawed, only outlaws will have smallpox," says one NIH virologist. Others say keeping vials of deadly virus just invites a horrific accident or theft. WHO is about to vote — again.
Anthrax has long been considered one of the most likely weapons a bioterrorist might use. Some researchers think the vaccine should be tested on children to find out if it would be safe to use in an attack. But a presidential bioethics commission says that first, researchers will have to show that children would face no more than "minimal risk."