Destruction of smallpox

Doug Yanega dyanega at DENR1.IGIS.UIUC.EDU
Thu Aug 1 12:31:19 CDT 1996

Michael A. Vincent wrote:
>If the genetic code of the virus is needed for future
>research, then isolate the genetic material and destroy the organism.

Is there a functional difference between these in the case of a virus?

>Should we ever decide to completely destroy atomic weapons, who would
>argue in favor of keeping a few around "for future research"?

In one sense, this is a poor example; we can recreate atomic weapons any
time the mood strikes us. We have plenty of blueprints. We cannot recreate
an extinct species. We can't create a functioning virus from scratch even
if we know its complete genetic code, can we? How can we possibly know now
what future use that virus could be put to? I doubt many of us here are
qualified to speculate. Any virologists on line here? I'd certainly defer
to their opinion, if there were a consensus.

Doug Yanega       Illinois Natural History Survey, 607 E. Peabody Dr.
Champaign, IL 61820 USA      phone (217) 244-6817, fax (217) 333-4949
 affiliate, Univ. of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Dept. of Entomology

  "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
        is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82

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