US reviews research risks amid bird-flu debate

LAURAN NEERGAARD AP Medical Writer Published:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Obama administration is ordering a government-wide review of scientific research that could raise biosecurity concerns in the wake of fierce controversy over some man-made strains of the deadly bird flu.

The policy being released Thursday tightens oversight of high-stakes research involving dangerous germs which could cause harm if the research ever is misused. It lays out steps to help determine which projects raise those concerns and how to manage the risks.

The issue arose when researchers in Wisconsin and the Netherlands created easier-to-spread versions of bird flu as part of work to understand what might make the virus more dangerous to people. The U.S. initially urged researchers not to release details of the work so would-be terrorists couldn't copy it. Government advisers are reconsidering whether that secrecy is necessary.