Lifestyle & Belief

Bird flu research moratorium lifted


Workers place dead chickens into plastic bags after they were killed at a live chicken distribution centre in Hong Kong on December 21, 2011. Hong Kong culled 17,000 chickens and suspended live poulty imports for 21 days after three birds tested positive for the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu virus.


Aaron Tam

Scientists on Wednesday lifted a voluntary moratorium on research into mutant forms of the deadly H5N1 bird flu.

The halt was put in place last year following bioterrorism concerns, Reuters reported.

More from GlobalPost: Scientists pause study of deadly bird flu strains

Scientists had been studying mutant forms of the bird flu that can be transmitted directly between mammals, including people, raising fears about such a virus getting into the wrong hands.

But 40 experts from nine nations now say they have put safety guidelines in place and the research should go on, according to USA Today.

More from GlobalPost: Bird flu could be five steps from pandemic, study says

"We believe the public health benefits of H5N1 research outweigh the risks,"signer Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin wrote in a letter from researchers published in the journals Nature and Science.

Research is slated to begin in Europe again within weeks, focusing on which mutations are the biggest threat and how many mutations are needed to make the disease airborne, The Associated Press reported.

Research in the US cannot resume until guidelines are put in place there, CNN reported.