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Biotech Medicine Science

JASON Proposes a 'Library of Congress' For Pathogens 42

An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from a blog at the Federation of American Scientists' website: "In order to help determine the origins of microbial threats in terrorist incidents or epidemics, it would be useful to have a deep archive of various strains of lethal bacteria, the JASON defense advisory panel told the National Counterproliferation Center in a newly released 2009 report (PDF). ... 'This library would consist of strains collected worldwide by methods that preserve sample properties, and capture all relevant data (e.g. geolocation, local environmental conditions). It should include laboratory isolates, natural isolates, and DNA sequence data.'"
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JASON Proposes a 'Library of Congress' For Pathogens

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  • That library should have an awesome security around it. It's one thing to keep data secure, that's difficult enough, keeping a collection of biological weapons secure is an entirely different thing.

    Biological weapons have the problem that they are self-reproducing, the release of *one* sample is enough to cause mass destruction.

  • That's all the world needs, the great expansionistic empire-building nation of the modern world to have a complete palette of nasties.

  • by Angst Badger ( 8636 ) on Friday February 04, 2011 @10:44AM (#35103248)

    Epidemics, sure, but maybe I missed the wave of bioterrorism that prompted this orgy of spending. If they can find a way to tie in pedophilia and intellectual property rights, they'll be swimming in cash.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      You're looking at this from the wrong angle. We could really use a database of pathogens for medical purposes!

      Just mention "terrorism" and "WMDs", and you'll get all the funding you need.

  • by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Friday February 04, 2011 @10:47AM (#35103292) Homepage

    I thought we had that already and it's called the CDC.

  • ...but what do FREDDY KRUEGER and MICHAEL MYERS think about this matter?

  • There is obviously no way this could ever possibly end badly. Let's get this ball rolling!

    (This post brought to you by Lysol)
  • I know I'm not the only geek that read "JSON" when first skimming this title.

    Nobody knows why they felt the need to capitalize their group name JASON, since according to the WP article, it is a reference to the mythological Greek character Jason.

  • The original mythological Jason was undone when he left the alliance that had supported him for another alliance, hoping for a better deal, out of a presumable fear of scarcity in not having enough political power. It is the engineers, scientists, artists, farmers, machinists, and so on who have brought great wealth to our society, while others then have tried to forge that wealth into power, often through creating artificial scarcity through war and commercial competition and passing laws against cooperati

    • I've seen you post this stuff about a post scarcity society on every damn story on Slashdot from ones dealing with space exploration to ones dealing with corporate drama in the computer world. I get that you read a book, or went to a lecture or something that pimped the benefits of, "transitioning our society to one of abundance." I get that, whatever your source for these ideas was, it inspired you to tell anyone who would listen about it. I understand that you are trying to fight a cause for the bettermen
      • "I get that you read a book..."

        Wrote a (free, online) book, actually. :-)
        http://www.pdfernhout.net/post-scarcity-princeton.html [pdfernhout.net]
        And other stuff, example:
        http://www.kurtz-fernhout.com/oscomak/AchievingAStarTrekSociety.html [kurtz-fernhout.com]

        But many others have said similar things before, from Albert Einstein to James P. Hogan. Although Einstein also said nuclear weapons did not create a new problem as much as make an old one much worse.

        While I did repeat a general theme, it was JASON

      • See my other comment too, but this is from some stuff I sent Freeman Dyson, people won't get some of the references without having read his books, but seem my point on a new defense directorate. :-)

        === Beginning ...

        In "The Sun, the Genome, and the Internet", which I'm currently reading aloud to my kid, you talk about how those three tools can bring about a revolution in global abundance, which I have no doubt has truth to it. But, the fact is that we have known for a century how to harness the power of the

    • by ediron2 ( 246908 ) *
      Are we reading the same Jason? [wikipedia.org] I mean, fear of scarcity vs. empire building are hardly 'same thing by degrees', and what Medea did was... er... not the sort of thing that leads to a monty python sketch ("Help, help, I'm being repressed!").
      • Sure, I know I'm interpreting the myth towards a point I want to make. :-) But that is the value of broad myths about eternal issues. In this case though, it seems suprisingly apt though in at least some ways. And why do people try to build empires instead of just having a nice life on a farm or in a city somewhere, raising a handful of kids? Is not part of it some sort of inner psychological fear about inadequacy?

        Or as Alfie Kohn suggests:
        "No Contest: The Case Against Competiti

  • Certainly! What could possibly go wrong?

  • If you can sequence the pathogen, maybe you can avoid storing a living or livable (spore, etc.) copy of it and minimize the risk of escape.

    • If you can sequence the pathogen, maybe you can avoid storing a living or livable (spore, etc.) copy of it and minimize the risk of escape.

      And if you sequence it and the sequence is published, anybody with the right lab equipment can manufacture it with no physical connection to the "library".

      (Yes they have successfully constructed a bacterium from data already.)

  • Isn't there a movie plot that started like this? I can't remember what it is, but I do remember that it didn't end well.

    Let's let the CDC do its thing, we don't need more repositories of invisible Armageddon bringers, then again, 2012 is around the corner and we're all supposed to die anyways... oooh... perhaps because of this?

  • isn't this the premise of a michael crichton book? or did they stop watching movies in japan after godzilla?
  • There has been a lot of pathogen-specific research in the last decade, most of that data is public and is available in GenBank [nih.gov], which also happens to be where all the other genetic data resides. There's a European one and a Japanese one too, as well as various topic-specific and private ones, but the GenBank is the biggest. It's a whole lot to sift through, a previous employer has a great graphic [microbialr...astone.com] for making sense of it all.

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger