The New Biological Weapons: Threat, Proliferation, and Control

By Malcolm Dando | Go to book overview

1
Technological Change
and Arms Control

In early 1999 the respected journal Science carried an article titled “Terrorism: Defending Against Bugs and Bytes, ” which reported: “Flanked by Nobel-winner Joshua Lederberg and four cabinet members, President Clinton announced on 22 January at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D. C., that he intends to ask Congress for about $2.85 billion to fight terrorist threats to the U. S. civilian population” (1). The article explained that “Clinton said that he has been 'nagging' his staff about bioterrorism 'for the better part of 6 years,' and that Lederberg—a molecular biologist and former president of the Rockefeller University in New York City—helped give credibility to his worries” (1). If Congress approved the expenditure, the funds were to be used for vaccine development, genetic studies of human pathogens, and development of high-speed medical diagnostic systems.

This report was one of many suggesting growing high-level political concern about the possible use of biological weapons (BW)—and not just for terrorist purposes. It has become increasingly evident that ever since the discovery at the end of the nineteenth century that specific microorganisms cause specific diseases in humans, animals, and plants, major states have attempted to develop biological weapons (2). This process began with efforts by both sides (the Central Powers and the Allied Powers) during World War I to damage the valuable draft animal stocks of their enemies. It encompassed the appalling Japanese offensive biological warfare program in China during the 1930s and 1940s, which resulted in many thousands of deaths and the huge and sophisticated British, U. S., and Soviet programs of the mid and later decades of the century.

Consideration of this history leads to the obvious conclusion that biological weapons present a multifaceted threat. We should not just be concerned about the use of such weapons for bioterrorism, assassination, or economic warfare against staple crops, but also for tactical or strategic

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The New Biological Weapons: Threat, Proliferation, and Control
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents v
  • Tables & Figures vii
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • 1 - Technological Change and Arms Control 1
  • References *
  • 2 - Operational Toxin and Bioregulatory Weapons 17
  • References *
  • 3 - Concerns About the Misuses of Biotechnology 33
  • References *
  • 4 - Toxins 45
  • References *
  • 5 - Bioregulatory Peptides 67
  • References *
  • 6 - Specificity: Receptors 87
  • References *
  • 7 - Agent Delivery 103
  • References *
  • 8 - Targets 117
  • References *
  • 9 - Can the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention Be Strengthened? 133
  • References *
  • 10 - The Future of Arms Control 153
  • References *
  • Acronyms & Abbreviations 163
  • Further Reading 167
  • Index 169
  • About the Book 181
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