By Debora MacKenzie
BATTLES continue over whether or not to publish research in which H5N1 bird flu transmitted readily among mammals.
Last week, a group of flu virologists, public health experts from countries where H5N1 circulates, bioethicists and the World Health Organization advised that the work should be published – even though the top US biosecurity panel has advised against it.
The US National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) feared publication would hand hostile forces a fearsome bioweapon. The WHO, which hosted the meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, decided it was impossible to stop publication yet make details of the work available to protect public health. New Scientist has found that publication might add little to what is already openly available in the scientific literature.