The Doomsday Clock is an internationally recognized design that conveys how close we are to destroying our civilization with dangerous technologies of our own making. First and foremost among these are nuclear weapons, but the dangers include climate-changing technologies, emerging... Read More
Do you think the hands of the Doomsday Clock should be closer to or farther from midnight?
A biochemist, Hunger heads the biological arms control research group at the University of Hamburg. Her expertise is in biological weapons and arms control. From 1997 to 2001, Hunger worked as assistant to the chairman of the Ad Hoc Group of States Parties to the Biological Weapons Convention at the United Nations. In 2007, she contributed to the book, Bioterrorism: Confronting a Complex Threat.
The list of issues that qualify as biosecurity concerns is expanding. Protecting against accidental disease outbreaks; the introduction of genetically modified crop plants, or foreign animal or plant diseases; food defense (formerly known as food safety); and controlling natural outbreaks of disease have all recently fallen under the biosecurity umbrella. This broadening scope has the potential to bring renewed attention to certain public health issues, but it also could tie public health too closely to national security agendas and may threaten the freedom of scientific research.
My fellow discussants repeatedly allude to the same reason to explain why we need to keep
sequence data public: Not doing so would harm the advancement of science and would prevent the
development of top-quality medicine, including for biodefense purposes. This implies that they
Is the availability of genetic information dangerous? Certainly. But so is driving a car, flying
to the moon, or falling in love. We do a lot of dangerous things, simply because the benefits
outweigh our concerns.