DNA for Smallpox Virus Available on the Internet

Daily Mail (London), June 15, 2006 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

DNA for Smallpox Virus Available on the Internet


Byline: JULIE WHELDON

URGENT calls have been made for the law to be changed to stop ingredients for deadly biological weapons being bought over the Internet.

A shocking investigation has exposed how elements of the deadly smallpox virus can be purchased online then delivered through the post in Britain.

It is feared terrorists could use the same tactics to create a biological weapon.

Concern over the potential risk to public health last night prompted calls for the law to be changed to close current loopholes.

Smallpox is one of the biggest killers in history, having claimed at least 300million lives in the 20th century alone.

The virus was eradicated in 1977 but samples of it still exist in guarded laboratories in Russia and the U.S.

But now it has emerged that individuals posing as scientists can readily obtain sequences of smallpox DNA via the Internet . The Guardian newspaper ordered a 78-letter sequence of smallpox DNA - with three modifications to make it harmless - from VH Bio Ltd of Gateshead, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, a company that supplies microbiology products.

The newspaper provided the name of a made-up company and provided only a residential address and mobile phone number.

VH Bio Ltd, queried the address but was told the company was moving offices and wanted to ensure it received the package.

Apparently satisfied, it put the vial containing the sequence in the post and it was delivered by Royal Mail.

The full genome for smallpox is 185,000 letters long and so a terrorist would need to order a whole string of sequences to put them together to make the virus.

Although not a task that could be performed by one person acting alone, a wellfunded

terrorist organisation

with access to a lab and PhDlevel personnel could do it.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

DNA for Smallpox Virus Available on the Internet
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?