The miniaturization of mass destruction: bioterrorism has been around a long time: the Romans used dead animals to foul their enemies' water, and the bodies of infected soldiers were catapulted into besieged towns in medieval times. Now, it's more sophisticated and potentially devastating, but some think the threat has been exaggerated. (Terrorism - Bioterrorism).
The anthrax anthrax (ăn`thrăks), acute infectious disease of animals that can be secondarily transmitted to humans. It is caused by a bacterium (Bacillus anthracis attacks in the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. in the fall of 2001 placed a new focus on the threat of bioterrorism. Although highly disruptive, costly, and scary, the anthrax problem caused only a handful of deaths. It could produce a larger problem in experienced hands though; when inhaled, the substance can kill more than 90% of its victims if left untreated.
A 1999 Canadian Health Protection Branch report estimated that a release of the deadly anthrax bacteria "under optimal conditions would result in approximately 35,000 deaths in seven days" and cost the healthcare system $6.5 billion. But, scientists think anthrax is not the threat many people fear it to be: people need to inhale spores by the thousands to become very ill; it is not contagious; and, if it's caught early or if its release is suspected in a terror attack, treatment with antibiotics can head off any serious effects. What the anthrax scare did do was disrupt government operations, tie up emergency personnel, interrupt mail service, make workers less productive, and rendered the public fearful and distracted. If the primary purpose of terrorism is to create fear and panic, then even a small-scale chemical or biological attack can "be as paralyzing as any nerve gas nerve gas, any of several poison gases intended for military use, e.g., tabun, sarin, soman, and VX. Nerve gases were first developed by Germany during World War II but were not used at that time. and more infectious than any virus," as one report explained.
Other diseases that could be used as biological weapons include: plague; tularemia tularemia (tlərē`mēə) or rabbit fever, acute, infectious disease caused by Francisella tularensis (Pasteurella tularensis). , a plague-like disease; and botulism botulism (bŏch`əlĭz'əm), acute poisoning resulting from ingestion of food containing toxins produced by the bacillus Clostridium botulinum. , caused by a toxin from the common food-poisoning bacterium clostridium botulinum Clostridium bot·u·li·num
A bacterium that occurs widely in nature and is a cause of botulism; its six main types, A to F, are characterized by antigenically distinct but pharmacologically similar, very potent neurotoxins. .
But, experts worry most about the release of smallpox, even though it's harder to obtain than anthrax. There are only two official stores of the smallpox virus smallpox virus
See variola virus. ; one in America and one in Russia. However, others are thought to hold illicit stocks. It was estimated in 2000 that as many as 10 countries may possess the virus, or are trying to acquire it. The disease was wiped out 20 years ago, so few people have immunity. Smallpox is highly contagious and lethal. It killed more than 300 million people worldwide in the 20th century, compared with 20 million who died from the great 1918 influenza pandemic. Routine vaccination against smallpox ended nearly 30 years ago, and the shot is only effective for about 10 years. More than half the world's population has never been vaccinated. The disease kills between a third and half of unvaccinated victims, and it's estimated that every infected person could pass it on to 10 to 50 others.
But, how likely is germ warfare to happen and be successful? Clearly, the minds that dreamt up the horror of 9/11 are not going to be held back by moral considerations in using weapons of mass destruction Weapons that are capable of a high order of destruction and/or of being used in such a manner as to destroy large numbers of people. Weapons of mass destruction can be high explosives or nuclear, biological, chemical, and radiological weapons, but exclude the means of transporting or . So, the real questions are: can they get their hands on such weapons, and can they deliver them? It seems the answers are "yes" and "yes."
Many experts say it's just a matter of time before the unthinkable becomes real.
According to a new book by the Council on Foreign Relations The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) is an influential and independent, nonpartisan foreign policy membership organization founded in 1921 and based at 58 East 68th Street (corner Park Avenue) in New York City, with an additional office in Washington, D.C. in the U.S., "On the domestic level, every relevant element of state and federal government from police to public health authorities must now prepare for the use of biological weapons against citizens. Such planning and action is fundamentally defensive and rests on the assumption that biological warfare biological warfare, employment in war of microorganisms to injure or destroy people, animals, or crops; also called germ or bacteriological warfare. Limited attempts have been made in the past to spread disease among the enemy; e.g. agents will continue to exist and will be used."
Biological weapons are small, potent, relatively cheap, and hard to detect.
According to one report, a state-of-the-art biological laboratory could be built and made operational with as little as $10,000 U.S. worth of off-the-shelf equipment and could be housed in a small room. As well, graduate university students in laboratories around the world know enough about recombinant DNA recombinant DNA
Genetically engineered DNA prepared by transplanting or splicing one or more segments of DNA into the chromosomes of an organism from a different species. Such DNA becomes part of the host's genetic makeup and is replicated. and cloning technology to design and mass-produce such weapons. Biological agents can mutate mu·tate
intr. & tr.v. mu·tat·ed, mu·tat·ing, mu·tates
To undergo or cause to undergo mutation.
[Latin m , reproduce, multiply, and spread over a large geographic area by wind, water, insect, animal, and human transmission. Also, advances in genetic engineering have made it possible to make infectious micro-organisms more powerful and resistant to antibiotics. So, advanced biological technologies have spread all over the world, and there are many highly trained, technical people working on their use and effects.
But, before we retreat into our bunkers and seal the entrance, one expert at the Centre for International and Security Studies at the University of Maryland, Baltimore University of Maryland, Baltimore, (also known as UMB) was founded in 1807. It is one of the oldest universities in the United States and comprises some of the oldest professional schools in the nation and world. thinks the threat of bioterrorism has been "wildly exaggerated." According to an article in The Economist, Dr. Milton Leitenberg says a would-be bioterrorist must be able to identify and obtain the correct pathogenic strains; handle them correctly; grow them in an environment that encourages production of the desired characteristics; store them and scale up production properly; and "weaponize Verb 1. weaponize - make into or use as a weapon or a potential weapon; "Will modern physicists weaponize String Theory?"
alter, change, modify - cause to change; make different; cause a transformation; "The advent of the automobile may have altered the growth " or disperse them effectively. It's thought that all but the last step are easily accomplished, but Dr. Leitenberg thinks only the most sophisticated and well-funded terrorists could consistently produce high-quality toxins and distribute them effectively. Others say those who make biological weapons are actually at higher risk than their intended victims.
A Toronto doctor who specializes in infectious disease Infectious disease
A pathological condition spread among biological species. Infectious diseases, although varied in their effects, are always associated with viruses, bacteria, fungi, protozoa, multicellular parasites and aberrant proteins known as prions. control says the best advice she heard to calm people worried about becoming victims of an anthrax attack was: Stop smoking, wear your seatbelt, and get a flu shot. These common threats are much more dangerous, she said.
Nevertheless, the federal government announced new measures in its battle against terrorism in October 2001. The measures include a $12 million bioterrorism protection package. The money will go to anti-anthrax drugs, quick-detection measures, and other procedures to guard Canadians' health in case of bioterrorism attack. Some of the money will also go to training medical professionals to diagnose infections such as anthrax. But, while the government was preparing to counter bioterrorism attacks, Health Minister Allan Rock also said, "... it is important to remember that the risks are remote, that Canadians should remain calm and that the government of Canada The Government of Canada is the federal government of Canada. The powers and structure of the federal government are set out in the Constitution of Canada.
In modern Canadian use, the term "government" (or "federal government") refers broadly to the cabinet of the day and is taking all necessary precautions."
1. In an article on germ warfare in the Foreign Affairs book, How Did This Happen? Terrorism and the New War, author Richard Butler says the international community needs to agree that the manufacture, possession, or use of biological weapons are by their very nature crimes against humanity. He says that to do so would make it possible to take immediate action to remove the offending facilities or laboratories involved. In Foreign Affairs, Richard Belts calls for civil-defence programs: distributing masks, vaccination planning public education, and emergency-response programs. Discuss these approaches to stemming the development and use of biological weapons.
2. An American university professor, Loren Thompson, says, "Terrorism does not exist without media. And on a massive scale, these terrorists [responsible for the anthrax scare] are reconfiguring national culture and perceptions by their ability to manipulate the media. They are using fear as a `force multiplier' - that is the old idea that you leverage a little bit of military power into a lot of damage." Discuss how .you think the media should respond in such situations.
Center for the Study of Bioterrorism - http:// bioterrorism.slu.edu/
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/
New Scientist http://www.newscientist. com/hottopics/bioterrorism/
A quarter tonne of a properly "weaponized" bacterial preparation, carefully dried and milled to the correct particle size, could wipe out the inhabitants
The game is based loosely on the concepts from SameGame. of an entire city in a single strike.
After a Geneva conference in 1996, where 80 countries reviewed the 1972 international treaty on biological weapons, the Canadian federal government proposed a series of verification measures to protect materials used in drug and vaccine research that are also used in making biological weapons.
MISSING THE MARK
In March 1995, members of the Aum Shinrikyo cult placed containers of the nerve gas sarin sarin (zärēn`), volatile liquid used as a nerve gas. It boils at 147°C; but evaporates quickly at room temperature; its vapor is colorless and odorless. in five Tokyo subway cars during the morning rush hour. About 6,000 people were exposed to the gas, which sent more than 3,000 to hospital emergency rooms. In the end, 12 people were killed by the gas and 54 more were seriously injured, but it was reported that most of the casualties resulted from the panic the attack caused. According to the Washington Post, the Washington Post, The
Morning daily newspaper published in Washington, D.C., the dominant paper in the U.S. capital and one of the nation's leading newspapers. Established in 1877 as a Democratic Party organ, it changed orientation and ownership several times and faced group has dispersed anthrax and botulinum toxin as botulinum toxin A Oculinum Neurology One of several toxins produced by C botulinum, of which the 150 kD type A toxin has been purified and used to treat various neuromuscular junction disorders including strabismus, blepharospasm, spasmodic torticollis, well, but says its biowarfare program has been a total flop.
Aum Shinrikyo is a large, sophisticated, and well-financed operation staffed by highly trained people studying germ and chemical warfare. Despite all this, they weren't able to achieve their goal of killing thousands in the subway attack. Here's how The Economist describes their failure: "... [after spending] $30 million attempting to develop sarin-based weapons ... they could not produce the chemical in the purity required. Their delivery mechanism was no more sophisticated than carrying it on to the trains in person in plastic bags. And, their idea of a distribution system was to pierce those bags with umbrella tips to release the liquid, which would then evaporate."
However, if the sarin had been pure and the dispersal mechanism slightly more sophisticated, it's estimated that tens of thousands could have died.
In 1972, an international consortium created the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, which prohibited the development and stockpiling of biological materials for hostile purposes. It went into effect in 1975, when it was ratified by 140 nations. Non-ratifiers include Libya, Iran, Iraq, and North Korea.
Nearly two decades later, in 1993, a report on weapons of mass destruction by the U.S. Office of Technology Assessment emphasized that, for the most part, transforming Bacillus anthracis Bacillus anthracis Infectious disease A gram-positive organism which causes often fatal infections when its endospores–resistant to heat, drying, UV light, gamma radiation, and many disinfectants–enter the body and cause septicemia Military medicine [anthrax] into a weapon is a low-tech procedure: it noted that on a clear, calm night, a light plane flying over Washington, D.C., carrying 100 kilos of anthrax spores and equipped with a crop sprayer, could deliver a fatal dose to as many as three million people. Here's a quote from the CIA's National Intelligence Council in December 2000: "Some terrorists or insurgents Insurgents, in U.S. history, the Republican Senators and Representatives who in 1909–10 rose against the Republican standpatters controlling Congress, to oppose the Payne-Aldrich tariff and the dictatorial power of House speaker Joseph G. Cannon. will attempt to use [weapons of mass destruction] against United States interests, against the United States itself, its forces or facilities overseas, or its allies."
Intelligence people believe that Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda group already has such weapons, and the World Health Organization has warned governments to be better prepared to deal with bioterror and/or nuclear attacks.
WHERE THE GERMS ARE
It has long been known that Iraq is a threat for biological warfare. Although the country signed the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention For the airport with this IATA location identifier, see .
The Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction (usually referred to as the outlawing the manufacture and use of such weapons, a secret program to manufacture and deploy biological weapons began several years later. It's been reported that Iraq has developed a range of such agents, including anthrax, botulinum toxin Botulinum toxin (botulin)
A neurotoxin made by Clostridium botulinum; causes paralysis in high doses, but is used medically in small, localized doses to treat disorders associated with involuntary muscle contraction and spasms, in addition to strabismus. , gas gangrene gas gangrene
A form of gangrene occurring in a wound infected with anaerobic bacteria, especially species of Clostridium, and characterized by the presence of gas in the affected tissue and constitutional septic symptoms. , aflatoxin, and ricin ricin /ri·cin/ (ri´sin) a phytotoxin in the seeds of the castor oil plant (Ricinus communis), used in the synthesis of immunotoxins.
n. , and worked hard to find ways to weaponize and deliver them. It's also been suggested that the country's leader, Saddam Hussein has been interested in plague, smallpox, and other infectious agents. A 1995 CIA CIA: see Central Intelligence Agency.
(1) (Confidentiality Integrity Authentication) The three important concerns with regards to information security. Encryption is used to provide confidentiality (privacy, secrecy). study named 16 other countries it suspected were researching and stockpiling germ warfare agents including: Iran, Libya, Syria, North Korea, Taiwan, Israel, Egypt, Vietnam, Laos, Cuba, Bulgaria, India, South Korea, South Africa, China, and Russia.