I recently interviewed a Columbia University parasitologist on GOF research. I picked him, in part, because he was strongly in favor of conducting GOF. According to him, the risks are minimal, and the benefits far outweigh them.
I'm not a scientist (obviously), but I can't say I agree with the entirety of his argument on the risks. Smallpox has been released from the lab 3 times, so we know that human error has allowed a deadly virus to escape from a lab and kill people.
It's pretty obvious that GOF has a lot of upsides though. Many scientists studying it are conducting this research explicitly to prevent pandemics in the future.
It doesn't seem obvious to me which route will produce the least risk.
Maybe we should send all scientists doing this kind of research into a quarantine bubble, and have them do 6 weeks on/6 weeks off shifts. Other than that, I'm out of ideas.
Clip of the interview if you're interested: