Can Scientists Regulate the Publication of Dual Use Research?
Dual use research has been defined as research that can be readily used to cause significant harm to public health, the environment, the economy, or national security (National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity 2007). The growing threat of the misuse of science and technology for terrorist or criminal purposes has led scientists, institutions, professional organizations, funding agencies, journals, and governments to consider how best to control research dual use research (Atlas 2002, Atlas and Dando 2006, National Research Council 2006, Resnik and Shamoo 2005). The three principal mechanisms for controlling dual use research are self-regulation by the scientific community, external regulation by the government, or some combination of the two (Miller and Selgelid 2007, Selgelid 2009). Most of the public debate thus far has focused on three types of dual use policies: funding of dual use research, access to dangerous research materials used in research, such as radiological, chemical, or biological agents, and control over the publication of data and results (Miller and Selgelid 2007). This commentary will focus on ethical and policy dilemmas related to the publication of dual use research.