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r International Union of Microbiological Scientists (IUMS). Code of Ethics against
Misuse of Scienti¬c Knowledge, Research and Resources, 28 April 2006.
r Global BioBusiness, Code of Conduct for Life Science Professionals, University of
Southern California Global Business Initiative.
a Available at http://www.biosecuritycodes.org/codes archive.htm.

be included? There is no authoritative process to anticipate forthcoming
The bigger problem has to do with the effect of codes that are exclusively
commitments of the willing that ignore the real problem: the activities of
the unwilling. Even among code-adopting groups, there is no way to know
if members are really observing the code. We might believe that persons
who declare their commitment to the code are in fact being observant,
but how are we to know if there are others who should be observing but
are not? Nothing in these codes would even begin to enable detection
of someone who is intentionally outside whatever code or system might
apply. At best, these codes relate exclusively to those persons and entities
that accept them. By de¬nition, these codes have no application to anyone
who rejects them.18
Ethical declarations that lack capacity to internationally manage risks
inevitably create something of a Swiss cheese of protections. Most bio-
science is conducted according to the highest safety and security stan-
dards, but it is absurd to argue that there are no exceptions. No one “ not
a single serious commentator “ would argue that the bioresearch phe-
nomenon will long be a monopoly of a few States that require rigorous

scienti¬c standards. It isn™t now. From the prevention perspective, as sci-
ence evolves, the presence of cheese in some places becomes less impor-
tant than the holes in others. The issue is not how the overwhelming
majority of ethical scientists behave. The issue is how to stop intentionally
malevolent perpetrators who are unlikely to be swayed from their illicit
undertakings by taking an oath to abjure harmful behavior. Prevention
must be made of sterner stuff.

The Need for Translucency
The challenge here, ultimately, is analogous to counter-espionage. We
are really not so interested in checking the activities of the overwhelm-
ing majority of scientists; we are interested in detecting a traitor™s activi-
The term transparency refers to policies that enable veri¬cation of
compliance with legal obligations. If stipulated activities are transparent,
then observers can know what others are doing and can promptly enforce
rights in a controversy. The mechanisms of transparency, developed in
connection with superpower nuclear weapons control, involve inspec-
tions “ specially authorized inspectors are entitled to scrutinize facilities
having capacity to make prohibited weapons. To achieve transparency
with regard to bioscience would require gathering copious information
about facilities capable of producing bioweapons. The extreme expense
of monitoring bioresearch in order to distinguish peaceful purposes from
hostile purposes must be weighed against the low likelihood of fully veri-
fying compliance or detecting noncompliance.
In contrast to nuclear weapons veri¬cation, there are virtually limitless
bioscience facilities, and illicit preparations can be easily hidden even at
monitored facilities. Perhaps thousands of inspectors could oversee activ-
ities at key bioscience installations. Yet even highly trained and broadly
authorized United Nations inspectors failed to discover Iraq™s bioweapons
program in the 1990s until an Iraqi weapons of¬cial tipped them off. It
borders on the absurd to devote comparable resources to inspection of
every sophisticated bioscience facility.
Moreover, the kinds of places and activities that would likely be
inspected are not where bioviolence preparations are expected to occur.
To focus on them would far more likely interfere with legitimate bio-
science pursuits than on potential criminality. Thus, even if massive
resources were devoted to monitoring declared bioscience activities,
those resources would at best prove that legitimate bioscience is not, in
fact, engaged in bioviolence preparations. It would not tell us much about

where illicit preparations are taking place or give us much insight about
how to stop them. Implementation of transparency policies is, therefore,
The term translucency may be offered as a middle ground between
transparency and opacity. Translucency refers to a set of policies that
are designed to generate an information ¬‚ow for deterring and detect-
ing wrongful activity. The prime directive of translucency policies is that
bioscience that is designed for or poses a unique threat of weapons appli-
cations must not be performed in absolute secrecy. Notably, these policies
are hardly novel for bioscientists operating in States with highly developed
science sectors; indeed, the concept here is to globalize these policies for
enabling non-intrusive oversight.
The central reason to prohibit secrecy is to compel accountability.
Someone should always be able to trace research activity back to its source.
Secret bioscience programs raise suspicions and could promote a race for
offensive capabilities under the cover of “defense.”19 Prohibiting secrecy
raises con¬dence that bioresearch is not undertaken to advance biovio-
lence. Prohibiting secrecy also has deterrent value especially for national
biodefense programs by escalating the challenge of keeping wrongful
intentions secret. Accordingly, no bioresearch should be black-box, i.e.,
totally out of sight. Even where national authorities deem it appropriate to
classify (hold con¬dential) bioresearch, classi¬cation should be limited to
the details of that research; keeping secret the fact of classi¬cation should
be prohibited.
Some scienti¬c disciplines (notably nuclear physics) have long been
subject to government classi¬cation that restricts the unfettered dis-
semination of ideas. That some research is “classi¬ed” is not an unjus-
ti¬able constraint on scienti¬c freedom. Indeed, a government™s inter-
est in circumscribing the ¬‚ow of potentially dangerous information is
distinguishable from its attempt to constrain what someone might spec-
ulate about. Limiting the audience of certain scienti¬c information is
clearly different from censoring what research a scientist might under-
take. The intricate classi¬cation system that safeguards information hav-
ing international security implications does not prevent scientists from
pursuing or sharing ideas, only from disseminating the information they
generate through unapproved channels. In this context, there are very
well-understood processes that could promote reasonable regulation. This
issue is raised again in Chapter 8.
Prohibiting secrecy also has rami¬cations for important proprietary
and privacy interests. Most research has value “ proprietary value for

developing pharmaceuticals and career value to the researchers. There
must be criteria about what information should be disclosed and the pro-
cess of handling and storing that information. Accordingly, it is essential
to differentiate: 1) research with signi¬cant implications for bioviolence
from the vastly larger amount of research that does not; and 2) the exis-
tence of that research from its speci¬c contents or results. In truth, very
little research need be disclosed; it is the fact of research not its content “
its location and basic purpose not its methodology or results “ that
should be disclosed.20 Disclosure would be made to national authorities
except in rare cases involving extremely dangerous research or research
overtly focusing on military applications that should involve international
disclosure.21 Moreover, protections should be developed to ensure that the
process of disclosing information does not intrude into professional and
personal privacy. Con¬dentiality is essential; distinguishing secrecy from
con¬dentiality is mandatory.22

Bioscientists as the First Line of Defense
Although codes of ethical conduct are inadequate to fully address biore-
search™s potential dangers, there are more formal mechanisms of self-
supervision “ short of legal regulation “ that could contribute to reduc-
ing risks, especially if such mechanisms are implemented worldwide.
These mechanisms include: 1) requirements for education and training
with regard to research responsibility, 2) professional certi¬cation require-
ments, and 3) protection and encouragement of whistleblowers.

Bioresearch Education and Training
Every bioscientist should be required to successfully participate in a pro-
gram of study that highlights ethical responsibilities for research that could
be catastrophically misused. No scientist should be able to claim that he
or she was unaware of the dangerous implications of doing particular re-
search; “competency in research entails responsible conduct and the capa-
city for ethical decision making.”23 Accordingly, the National Academy
of Sciences (NAS) Panel on Scienti¬c Responsibility and the Conduct of
Research has recommended that scientists and research institutes “inte-
grate into their curricula educational programs that foster faculty and
student awareness of concerns related to the integrity of the research
process.”24 Mentors should monitor trainees for misconduct and instill
by example the highest ethical standards.25

According to the United States Commission on Research Integrity, edu-
cation on ethical research practices for scientists should begin in the early
stages of training and continue through the most senior career stages.26
Researchers more often engage in responsible professional conduct when
they can: 1) identify ethical aspects of research situations and applicable
legal standards, 2) develop defensible rationales for a choice of action,
3) integrate the value of professional discipline with personal values and
appropriately prioritize those values, and 4) perform complex tasks with
integrity.27 Courses that emphasize ethical responsibilities should be a
mandatory part of Ph.D. programs; other professions such as law and
medicine have comparable requirements for ethics courses. For practicing
bioresearchers, continuing professional education could make available
such courses, and professional accreditation could compel scientists to

Professional Certi¬cation
In sharp contrast to physicians who must be licensed to practice medicine
and lawyers who must be licensed to practice law, there is no formal process
for licensing or certi¬cation to approve career entry in the life sciences. In
general, bioresearch institutions are supposed to identify persons who are
capable of committing scienti¬c misconduct “ a mandate that is lacking
both criteria and legal obligation.
Instead of insisting on global certi¬cation for bioresearch profes-
sionals, the U.S. government has initiated selective and arguably ill-
designed efforts to limit risks. There are additional security checks on
visa applications for foreign nationals with expertise in certain chemi-
cal and biological technologies; these students™ programs of study are
tracked through the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System
(SEVIS).28 Besides obviously ignoring risks that American students might
be motivated to commit bioviolence, these efforts to limit access of foreign
students often turn the best and the brightest away from the ethical train-
ing that American institutions could provide in favor of education outside
the United States.
Another controversial initiative is the United States Security Risk
Assessment (SRA) which requires scientists who work with potential biovi-
olence agents to turn over their ¬ngerprints and personal information to
the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for background checks.29 The FBI
searches relevant databases and other sources to determine if an appli-
cant is a “restricted person” that is, a citizen of a country suspected of
supporting terrorism, a person with a history of mental illness, illegal drug

use or felony convictions, or has been dishonorably discharged from the
military.30 In its ¬rst two years of operation, over 13,000 background checks
had been completed; 72 applicants were considered to be “restricted per-
sons” of whom the vast majority “ 53 of the 72 “ were restricted due to a
prior felony conviction.31
Many scientists object to these initiatives that are thought to have ques-
tionable value for preventing bioviolence. However, the impetus for these
initiatives is that although bioresearch entails activity that could be enor-
mously dangerous, there is little support within the profession for a global
certi¬cation system with records detailing who is working in which insti-
tutions and what each scientist is quali¬ed to undertake. Calls for self-
regulation that do not include mechanisms to identify individual scientists
and to keep track of their activities are calls for no real oversight at all. In
that vacuum, scientists might be disappointed but should not be surprised
when the government™s heavy hand intrudes on their anonymity.

Scientists correctly assert that they are best positioned with the greatest
opportunity to detect misconduct and report it in its early stages. It will
likely be a scientist who notices when a colleague works on strange projects
at odd hours or moves vials without returning them.32 Will scientists see
it as their responsibility to report their misgivings; if they do, will they
be protected against potential retaliation? If whistleblowers who report a
colleague are punished by their institutions or if their identity is widely
aired to those colleagues who, after all, might be associated with repre-
hensible activity, other scientists will be discouraged from ever report-
ing misconduct.33 To expect members of the scienti¬c community who
have knowledge of misconduct to come forward because it is their eth-
ical responsibility to do so requires fair systems of review and effective
protection from retaliation.
The U.S. Commission on Research Integrity (CRI) has recommended a
Whistleblower™s Bill of Rights to strengthen whistleblower protections by
encouraging institutions to treat whistleblowers fairly, protect them from
retaliation, and to articulate the responsibilities one incurs when accusing
another of misconduct. The CRI also recommended notifying all research
scientists of acceptable and unacceptable procedures, making available
an independent ombudsman, and appointing a senior advisor to both
accuser and accused.34 At this time, these recommendations are merely

All these initiatives “ improving bioresearch education, professional
certi¬cation, and whistleblower protection “ could be implemented in the
near term and would be bene¬cial. Yet, if bioscientists sincerely assert
that they can operate as a ¬rst line of defense that fends off the need for
more intrusive supervision, then they should demonstrate a more substan-
tial commitment. In this regard, the following words from noted experts
deserve attention:

Over time, we must construct a network of “checks and balances”: reg-
ulations, incentives, cultural expectations, and practices that encourage
and enable progress in scienti¬c understanding so that knowledge can be
brought to bear on human needs, while simultaneously assuring responsi-
ble stewardship of powerful knowledge so that it is not used for malevolent
purposes. Such stewardship will have to evolve “ rapidly, in concert with
the pace of advances in the life sciences “ to embrace a network of interna-
tional agreements, legal regulations, professional standards, ethical mores,
and catalogues of “best practices” pertinent to various ¬elds and disci-
plines. Scientists and the scienti¬c community must be integral partici-
pants in the design and implementation of such a network.35


It is critical to develop more vaccines and medicines. Yet, throwing money
at scienti¬c research in the blind faith that shields and cures will immunize


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