Dutch and American scientists studying highly virulent strains of Bird Flu thought they were going to be able to publish their findings after receiving approval by an influential advisory committee. National Public Radio’s Morning Edition reports that things got complicated when it was decided that these findings should only be accessed on a need-to-know basis. The researchers reluctantly agreed to this limited publication, but by the time a decision had been reached, both Dutch and American export control laws had come into play.
Now the Dutch government is preventing the publication of one of the manuscripts on the grounds that it may be used to create a biological weapon. Export control laws generally do not apply as long as the results are shared “freely and openly,” but when the researchers agreed to limit publication they forfeited their right to the “fundamental research exemption.”