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conceptual mapping >  community-based science and technologies  > Reject genetic engineering of smallpox, NGOs urge WHO

Reject genetic engineering of smallpox, NGOs urge WHO

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> Global Trends by Martin Khor

A campaign has been launched to request the World Health Organization (WHO) not to proceed with a project involving the genetic engineering of the smallpox virus and instead to ensure that all remaining stocks of the virus are destroyed within two years.

A proposal to the WHO to allow the genetic modification of small pox virus was first initiated by the United States at a WHO technical advisory committee, which recommended its acceptance to the WHO’s executive board. The proposal will come before the World Health Assembly (WHA) in May.

"The proposal to genetically engineer smallpox, which would also permit smallpox genes to be inserted into related poxviruses and the unlimited distribution of small segments of smallpox DNA, poses a large number of public health, biosafety, and biological weapons risks," warned Edward Hammond, Director of the US office of The Sunshine Project, an international NGO that specializes in research on biological weapons.

Co-sponsors of the NGO campaign include the Sunshine Project, the Third World Network, the Edmonds Institute, the Council for Responsible Genetics, Accion Ecologica, Institute of Science in Society. Read

date of on-line publication : 24 April 2007

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