Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Vice Chair of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, released this statement regarding the government's new policy for oversight of dual use research, or research with legitimate scientific applications that can also be used for bioterrorism.
Earlier this month, Sensenbrenner sent a letter to the White House regarding the Administration's safeguards for dual use research, and raised concerns that the current ad hoc approach was inadequate to balance the priorities of national security and the free flow of academic ideas. In his letter, he also noted that if circumstances pose a legitimate threat to global health, the government needs a review system that is capable of identifying and preventing the spread of dangerous research, ideally before the research is conducted.
"I wrote to the White House Science Advisor Dr. John Holdren on March 1 raising concerns about the adequacy of the federal government's policies on dual use research. I am encouraged that the Administration took seriously my concerns about the government's ability to identify potential threats to national security."
"The new policy guidelines are a positive step, but I will monitor them as they are implemented. Open access to research is critical to the protection of public health, but we must assess the risks and benefits of dual use research in its early stages and implement adequate controls if necessary to protect the American public."