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Bird flu research moratorium lifted

The bird flu research moratorium was put in place voluntarily last year following bioterrorism concerns.

Scientists pause bird flu studyEnlarge
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/AFP/Getty Images)

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.

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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.

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"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.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/health/130123/bird-flu-research-moratorium-lifted