We are about to launch what is likely to be the important campaign that OCA and our allies have ever organized: stopping the mad science of lab and genetic engineering “dual-use” (medical and military) pathogens such as the SARS-CoV-2 virus that has brought on the COVID-19 pandemic. So-called “Gain-of-function” research is most often justified as either “biomedical” or “biodefense” research. But neither of those justifications hold up under the scrutiny of scientists who are familiar with gain-of-function experiments.
Let’s start first with the “biodefense” rationale—which as bioweapons expert Sam Husseini explains, is just a euphemism for biowarfare:
“Governments that participate in such biological weapon research generally distinguish between ‘biowarfare’ and ‘biodefense,’ as if to paint such ‘defense’ programs as necessary. But this is rhetorical sleight-of-hand; the two concepts are largely indistinguishable. ‘Biodefense’ implies tacit biowarfare, breeding more dangerous pathogens for the alleged purpose of finding a way to fight them. While this work appears to have succeeded in creating deadly and infectious agents, including deadlier flu strains, such ‘defense’ research is impotent in its ability to defend us from this pandemic.”
The other rationale for gain-of-function research, “biomedical” research, sounds less nefarious. But it ranks low on both the plausibility and ethics scales.
In an interview with Organic Consumers Association, Jonathan Latham, who has a PhD in virology and directs the Bioscience Resource Project, said this about the risks vs. the benefits of gain-of-function research:
“You've shown that you can make a pandemic-type virus in the lab. But on a global scale, it is potentially disastrous but a scientifically trivial demonstration. These people are doing research that panics people, without actually learning much—if anything.”
It’s time to put an end to this madness.
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