destruction of smallpox

Robin Panza panzar at CLPGH.ORG
Fri Aug 2 12:11:06 CDT 1996

>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

Another wrinkle in this argument is whether a virus is even an organism.  I
have met virologists who say viruses are not living things.  In this case, the
proper analogy would be more like destroying all samples of a mineral.  It's
not covered by the biodiversity ethics, but neither can we recreate it.

Robin Panza                     panzar at
Section of Birds                Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Pittsburgh  PA  USA  15213

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