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What if DIY Biologists Create DIY Viruses?

In a previous post, we asked Dr. Michio Kaku which threats pose the greatest danger to humanity in 2012. Dr. Kaku listed, along with global warming and the laser enrichment of uranium, the possibility “that a government in the future may decide to weaponize a virus one day.”

And yet, the threat does not only come from rogue regimes or terrorist groups. “It is conceivable,” Dr. Kaku told Big Think, “that in the future high school kids for their high school science fare projects will simply type letters on a keyboard and create different kinds of life forms.” In other words, a deadly virus could be created and spread by an unwitting amateur, or DIY biologist.  

To make matters worse, a panel of scientists convened by the World Health Organization recently recommended the publication of a pair of controversial experiments involving the transformation of the H5N1 bird flu virus into mutant forms. In a recent New York Times article, some scientists expressed their concern that the publication of these experiments will tempt curious DIY biologists to recreate the experiments. 

 Are these fears exaggerated, or do so-called garage scientists pose a threat on par with terrorists and rogue nations?

Answer in the comments below and watch the video of Dr. Kaku here:

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Follow Daniel Honan on Twitter @Daniel Honan


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