The following is from a collection of websites that are reporting on the controversy and argument of ethics that goes hand-in-hand with the act of altering a pathogen, which may actually not be harmful to people and animals until it is altered.
This idea leaves the realm of sanity and embarks upon a road which can only lead to destruction. To argue the ethics of it is somewhat akin to debating whether igniting a pile of oily rags might burn down the house. "Oh, we can put it out if we act in time but then, how will we know how brightly the house might burn."
Science is supposed to be about the discovery of the world around us, but lately, it seems more intent on discovering how to destroy the world around us. Apparently for every benign person of science, there is an entourage of usurpers who would bend every discovery to destruction.
Whenever the public gets wind of the potential danger and begins to clamor - committees are appointed; teams of 'experts' are engaged; debates are scheduled; white papers are written; press conferences are conducted. And while the arguments rage, quietly behind the scenes, the destroyers steal away with the science, intent on their own agenda – which is why they funded the work in the first place.
Ethical Analysis from NIH.gov
Gain-of-function research, GOFR involves experimentation that aims to or is expected to (and/or, perhaps, actually does) increase the transmissibility and/or virulence of pathogens. Such research (when conducted by responsible scientists) usually aims to improve understanding of disease causing agents, their interaction with human hosts, and/or their potential to cause pandemics.
The ultimate objective of such research is to better inform public health and preparedness efforts and/or development of medical countermeasures.
Despite these important potential benefits, GOF research (GOFR) can pose risks regarding biosecurity and bio-safety. GOFR is a subset of “dual-use research”—i.e., research that can be used for both beneficial and malevolent purposes.
The study goes on to describe how they are going to make sure that ethics will be considered in order to keep the world safe. Their premise is to learn how to protect us from mutating viruses. The issue is, viruses don't typically mutate into pandemic potentials unless they are manipulated to do so.
We need to remember, it isn't nature that is out to get us.
The United Nations Biological Weapons Convention, which went into effect in 1975, forbids state parties from developing, producing, stockpiling, or otherwise acquiring or sharing biological agents, toxins and equipment that have no justification for peaceful or defensive purposes. There should be no research, then, whether gain-of-function or otherwise, that seeks to purposefully develop a biological weapon.
Biological weapons disseminate disease-causing organisms or toxins to harm or kill humans, animals, or plants. They can be deadly and highly contagious. Diseases caused by such weapons would not confine themselves to national borders and could spread rapidly around the world. The consequences of the deliberate release of biological agents or toxins by state or non-state actors could be dramatic.
In the past decade, the United States has developed oversight for research that could be directly misused for nefarious purposes. This includes policies on 'dual-use research of concern' (DURC) and policies on 'pathogens of pandemic potential' enhanced to gain transmissibility or virulence.
In addition to the tragic loss of lives, such events could cause food shortages, environmental catastrophes, devastating economic loss, and widespread illness, fear, and mistrust among the public.
UNODA, United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs meets every 5 years or so to discuss what's new. They are in charge of keeping all those pesky Weapons of Mass Destruction under control but apparently, have not come up with anything effective.
As a point of interest, one of UNODA's main focuses appears to be to make sure young people understand the dangers of weaponry - especially weapons in the hands of the public. Naturally, no one of sound mind wants bombs or nukes, so wonder what might they be teaching is to be done about the manufacturers of those pesky weapons.
Another interesting point - in 2014 Obama induced a moratorium on GOFR. In 2016, after Trump had taken office, the NSABB gave their blessing in the resumption to GOFR - as long as they followed guidelines, of course. At some point in 2017, Fauci declared, to the public, that Trump would be facing a surprise pandemic. It makes one wonder.
...A number of biosafety incidents at Federal facilities in 2014 prompted renewed efforts to promote and enhance biosafety and biosecurity. Concerns were also raised about certain 'gain-of-function' (GOF) studies with the potential to generate pathogens with pandemic potential. The concerns centered on whether a pathogen with enhanced transmissibility and/or virulence could be accidentally or intentionally released from a laboratory, potentially exposing surrounding populations and possibly causing a wider pandemic.
...certain GOF studies involving pathogens have raised concerns about whether a laboratory-generated pathogen with pandemic potential could be accidentally or intentionally released, resulting in significant consequences to public, or perhaps, global health. Concerns have also been raised about whether certain GOF studies could generate information that could enable individuals with malevolent intent to generate a pathogen with pandemic potential.
Information can no longer be buried, because Google searches can find information regardless of where or how it is published. Ultimately, NIH is likely to require the publication of original data.
Balancing Transparency and Security—Ethical Considerations -
David B. Resnik, J.D., Ph.D., Bioethicist, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences defined 'transparency' as the process of making information that is shared meaningful and useful to the person who is receiving that information.
For example - transparent information for the public might not include scientific details, which are less useful for this audience, but it might cover the implications of a discovery for society. The information shared in a transparent process might include details of completed, ongoing, or proposed research projects; summaries of peer-review deliberations on grant applications; or information used to make peer-review decisions.
Different audiences have different needs or expectations for information, and a process that is transparent to one group might not be to another. Among the benefits of transparency are that it promotes openness and honesty, supports peer review and scientific debate, and benefits the public. The risks of transparency include its potential to harm public health, society, or national security; violate the confidentiality of the peer-review process; result in retaliation against reviewers or theft of applicants’ research ideas; prevent reviewers from being candid about their opinions; or disrupt ongoing research. Transparency about ongoing research could be disruptive if it jeopardizes the scientific priority of the research.
Policies can require full disclosure (complete transparency), no disclosure (no transparency), or partial disclosure (sharing of some but not all details, perhaps on a need-to-know basis). A challenge with partial transparency is how to determine who can receive which types of information and how to keep the information secure.
The biggest question of ethics might be, "Should we really be conducting these dangerous experiments in the first place?" and since we are, the Public - and that means everyone who might be affected - needs to have access to that information.
Here's a point to ponder - If we used half the energy that is spent on all this dangerous experimentation, cleaning up our environment and providing Healthy nutrition to the People, we would have no need for all these dangerous experiments. There would be also no need for all the discussion on transparency and ethics. We could, instead, be living Healthy, Fun, Free lives with little to no disease!
Risk and Benefit Analysis of Gain of Function Research
This work was conducted under NIH Contract #HHSN263201500002C with Gryphon Scientific from March 20, 2015 to December 15, 2015. Revisions were made until April 2016.
…most estimates of the transmissibility of the coronaviruses consider these pathogens to be insufficiently transmissible and sufficiently susceptible to control measures such that a global pandemic has a very minimal chance of occurring. For this reason, increasing the transmissibility of the coronaviruses could significantly increase the chance of a global pandemic due to a laboratory accident. Because SARS-CoV is more transmissible than MERS-CoV, a relatively modest increase in transmissibility of SARS-CoV could increase risk, whereas MERS-CoV must be made significantly more transmissible to drive risk.
Here a seasoned scientist expresses his lack of concern that anyone would actually do bad things with GoF. Why would they? As for Mr. Fauci - there must be some misunderstanding, since this scientist feels that Fauci certainly would have no reason to lie to the world.
Says he -
The term Gain of Function is perhaps one of the most misunderstood in the scientific lexicon. I would like to explain what the phrase means from the perspective of a scientist who has done gain of function research for the past 40 years. Gain of function (GoF) research gives an organism a new property or enhances an existing one. The organism can be a virus, bacterium, fungus, rodent, bird, fish or anything that can be experimentally manipulated. (Technically, whales and elephants could be included in the definition, but it would be very difficult to do GoF research on them).
Many have the impression that GoF research involves making an organism more deadly – for example, increasing the capacity of a virus to cause disease. That impression is incorrect. [?!] Certainly GoF research might lead to a more dangerous organism, but most of the time that is not the goal.
The author of this article also states that,
The production of recombinant coronaviruses to assess pandemic potential was carried out in several laboratories, all funded by the NIH. Recently Dr. Anthony Fauci told Congress that the NIH did not fund GoF coronavirus research. The press has suggested that he lied, but the truth is that his definition of GoF research is that it only involves passaged of organisms in animals. This interpretation is not correct but being wrong does not mean you are lying.
Articles like these are part of the reason that there is so much confusion about what the actual truth is, and they highlight the disparity of people with different perspectives. No doubt this fellow loves science and it never occurred to him that someone might use it for evil. [Wonder how many mice and ferrets he's killed.] Be sure to read the comments on this blog.
No doubt whales and elephants are eternally grateful they aren't suitable subjects for experimentation of this type.