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July 29, 2005
On Long Island, researchers bring back the polio pathogen
A scary item in Newsweek: at a time when "health officials have been scrambling to stamp out polio around the world," a virologist at Stony Brook University has successfully assembled a polio pathogen from scratch. Why? Oh, come on, that's a silly question to ask a scientist: "The major purpose was to show that it can be done..." In other words, we did it because we wanted to, so leave us alone to spend our grant money however we want to. It's all legit, too, because the War on Terror (cue the spooky-sounding music) gives us the right to experiment with all kinds of ticking biological time bombs in order to protect us from (cue the really spooky-sounding music) the threat of Bio-Terrorism.
Newsweek follows up with a discussion of the trade-offs between biotech research and bioterror. The obvious question on everyone's mind: "If the polio virus can be made in a New York lab, what's next? Mail-order smallpox?" Around the U.S., all kinds of labs are now experimenting with deadly diseases, so what happens if one of these Black Plague-type of creations makes it out into the wild?
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