“The scientists doing this work are so immersed in their own self-aggrandizement, they have become completely blind to the irresponsibility of their acts.”
-–Robert Kolter, professor of microbiology at Harvard Medical School, condemning the work of Professor Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his research team, which managed to recreate the Spanish Flu virus that killed an estimated 50 million people in 1918.
The reincarnated 1918 virus was recreated from eight genes found in avian flu viruses isolated from populations of wild ducks. Using a technique known as “reverse genetics,” Kawaoka’s team rebuilt the entire virus so that it was 97 % identical to the 1918 strain, identified from viruses recovered from frozen 1918 corpses. Said Kawaoka: “The point of the study was to assess the risk of avian viruses currently circulating in nature. We found genes in avian influenza viruses quite closely related to the 1918 virus and, to evaluate the pandemic potential should such a 1918-like virus emerge, identified changes that enabled it to transmit in ferrets.”
And, in order to assess that risk, the research created a completely unnecessary one that if mankind proves fallible again, could, as various Stephen King and Michael Crichton novels and movies have shown, kill us all.
Eventually, one of these hubris-warped and ethics-free fools might just eradicate humanity…all in the interest of scientific inquiry, of course.