|16 April 2007
THIRD WORLD NETWORK BIOSAFETY INFORMATION SERVICE
Dear Friends and colleagues,
RE: Smallpox Virus Should Be Destroyed
Smallpox was eradicated in 1980, but the virus still exist in laboratories in the US and Russia where risky research with the live virus, including genetic engineering experiments, are proposed.
The US defends its position claiming security reasons. But as Edward Hammond of the Sunshine Project points out in this article published in the British Medical Journal, the terrorist threat is unjustified and maintains that stocks of the virus should be destroyed to prevent the disease reemerging either intentionally or otherwise. Moreover, the reasons for maintaining the live virus no longer exist, as essential research has been completed. Member countries of the World Health Organisation have also concurred that the virus should be destroyed.
The World Health Assembly, when it meets from 14-23 May 2007, will consider a draft resolution which requests the WHO Director General to ensure that any research undertaken does not involve genetic engineering of the smallpox virus (see BIS dated 31 January 2007, "Draft WHA resolution opposes genetic engineering of smallpox"). While this is a step in the right direction, more remains to be done, including ensuring that a new date for destruction of the virus stocks is fixed.
With best wishes,
Chee Yoke Heong and Lim Li Ching
Third World Network
131 Jalan Macalister,
Website: www.biosafety-info.net and www.twnside.org.sg