Physicists learned their lesson with the atomic bomb, but biologists are only now beginning to realise that their work could be immensely destructive in the wrong hands. A Geneva conference this month is urging scientists to censor their work with a voluntary code of conduct. Several recent papers have contained material which could have been used by terrorists. In 2001, for instance, an Australian team accidentally created a deadly variety of mousepox by removing a single gene and reported its work in a journal. In 2002 the journal Science published a paper showing how to synthesis the polio virus from scratch. A US expert commission has recently recommended that universities and research institutions set up committees to police researchers.
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