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The Threat Of Biological Warefare Essay

2359 words - 9 pages

It seems that every generation has special "buzzwords" for certain subjects. Not to be outdone in creativity by other generations, the buzzword for science in the 90's is "Biotechnology." Biotechnology is defined as "The study of the industrial production of goods and services by using biological organisms, systems, and processes" (Webster, 1968). Like any new technology there is a "good side" and a "bad side" to the technology. With regard to the good side: biotechnology has alleviated human suffering for the people that may have otherwise suffered or even died. As for the bad side: biotechnology creates ways in which human beings can actually cause human suffering. Human beings have a habit of overlooking the good and only seeing the bad. So it is easy to see biotechnology as causing terrible things; in fact biotechnology has many branches, one of which is the production of biological weapons. Biological warfare is the use of disease to harm or kill an adversary's military forces, population, food sources, and livestock (www.calpoly.edu). Biological weapons have slowly evolved into a cheap and deadly way of exterminating human beings. The threat of bioterrorism to every country in the world has been increasing. As can be seen from the above: biological weapons are extremely dangerous and the threat of using them in war and peace is extremely menacing.Biological weapons can be classified into 4 categories: viruses, bacteria, rickettsia, and genetically altered organisms. Viruses typically include Ebola, Hanta virus, and Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis (VEE). All three of these viruses can be fatal. Bacterial weapons include: vibrio cholera (which can cause gastroenteritis); Yersinisa pestis (which causes lung fever); and Bacillus anthracis (also known as anthrax). All of these agents can also be fatal. Rickettsial organisms are intracellular parasites that attach to humans cells. Some that may be used in biological warfare are Coxiella burnetti (which causes Q fever) and Rickettsia prowasecki (which causes typhus). There are not many Rickettsial organisms. However, they are all fatal. The last group of organisms is genetically altered organisms. Usually they are similar to one of the agents listed above but they have become naturally resistant to a vaccine or have been made resistant by humans (CQ Researcher, 1997).Biological weapons are extremely dangerous and the threat of using them is horrifying because biological weapons are lethal and the way in which they can be delivered is becoming more efficient. For instance, a purified form of botulinum is approximately 3 million times more potent than sarin gas (Developed in the 1930's, Sarin gas is one of several G-series nerve agents that quickly paralyze and kill victims after minuscule amounts come into contact with their skin or lungs.) Thus, 1 gram of botulinum could kill about 10 million people. Also in comparison with sarin gas, a SCUD missile filled with botulinum toxin could affect an area...

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