INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Uk: Pocs for Nnsab International Collaboration

Published: Fri 28 Jul 2006 08:17 AM
VZCZCXYZ0001
PP RUEHWEB
DE RUEHLO #5533 2090817
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 280817Z JUL 06
FM AMEMBASSY LONDON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7803
INFO RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHDC
UNCLAS LONDON 005533
SIPDIS
SIPDIS
STATE FOR OES/IHA NATALIA COMELLA, HHS FOR NIH AMY PATTERSON
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: TBIO UK
SUBJECT: UK: POCS FOR NNSAB INTERNATIONAL COLLABORATION
REF: STATE 56179
1. Post has identified POCs within HMG and in the research
community who are interested in engaging with the NSABB on
the potential for the misuse of life sciences research and
conveyed the points in reftel to the HMG. Within the HMG the
Home Office is responsible for monitoring the possible misuse
of scientific research. The POC within the HMG is Dr. Andy
Bell, Chief Scientist in the Home Office's CBRN Section. He
can be reached at (W) 44 (0)20 7035 6638, (F) 44 (0)87 0336
9117 or andy.bell23@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk. The POC in the
academic community Post identified is David Carr of the
Wellcome Trust. He has previously presented to the NSABB and
remains interested in serving as a POC for the NSABB in the
UK. His contact information is (W) 44 (0)20 7611 8220, (F)
44 (0)20 7611 8742, or d.carr@wellcome.ac.uk.
2. Dr. Bell related to ESToff the HMG is becoming more
aware, domestically, of the potential threat of "dual use"
research. Dr. Bell cited the recent piece of investigative
journalism in The Guardian, a London newspaper, relating to
the ease which pieces of DNA could be procured privately in
the UK. According to The Guardian, the pieces of DNA could
then be stitched back together, by a trained scientist, into
small pox, polio or any other dangerous pathogen. Bell
related this report had captured the attention of senior
decision makers in the Home Office and he was in the process
of preparing a report on the issue.
3. The research community in the UK is also well aware of the
potential misuse of life sciences research. The UK's Medical
Research Council (MRC) and Biotechnology and Biological
Services Research Council (BBSRC) (both government funded
research bodies) as well as the Wellcome Trust (a charity
which provides considerable funding for health research) have
issued policy statements on the potential for misuse of life
sciences research. The MRC's statement, which is closely
paralleled by the others, recognizes the danger but clearly
emphasizes that danger must be balanced against the known
benefits of encouraging research and the dissemination of
scientific knowledge. If regulation of this research were to
occur, the MRC argues, that regulation should be extremely
targeted at those research projects with a "tangible cause
for concern". It feels the number of such projects is very
small.
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