While the US continues to point to agreements that it has signed, undermined and failed to comply with, hundreds if not thousands of biolabs - US-funded, US-staffed and US-directed - proliferate globally, for three reasons: 1) the diseases bioengineered in them, patented, tested on local populations, and stockpiled for release onto the populations of insubordinate states; 2) the enormous pharmaceutical profits to be reaped by designing vaccines to "prevent" these same diseases; and 3) the power over and profit from controlling previously insubordinate states whose people - but not real estate - have been decimated by them.
As with all technologies, bioengineering advances at exponential rates. The following excerpts from US Air Force research now well over a decade old may help illustrate how widespread and advanced these programs are, contrary to the bumbling and obfuscatory public performance staged from 2020 to 2022. ~ Ed.
Analysis of the destructive effect of conventional biological weapons is further supported by reports from the United Nations and the Office of Technology and Assessments. The United Nations Secretary General generated a report on Chemical and Bacteriological (Biological) Weapons and the Effects of Their Possible Use , in the 1969 assessment of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention. The results showed that using a single bomber and with the right weather conditions on an unprotected population, a 10 ton biological agent dispersed in the environment could affect an area equal to 100,000 km 2 (roughly the size of the state of Indiana) as compared to a megaton of nuclear load which affected 300 km 2 only (approximately over half the size of the District of Columbia).19 Other publicly-available information also showed similar results. The Office of Technology Assessment in 1993 released a report that showed two hypothetical scenarios using biological weapons:
First, an attack with a missile delivered on an overcast day or night, with a moderate wind, on to a city with 3,000 to 10,000 unprotected people per km2. The authors stated that 300 kg of Sarin nerve gas could kill between 60 and 200 people in an area of 0.22 km2 . 30 kg of anthrax spores spread out in a cigar-shape across the city from the missile warhead could kill 30,000 to 100,000 in an area of 10 km2 . For a 12.5-kt nuclear weapon there would be a circular area of destruction of 7.8 km 2 in which 23,000 to 80,000 people could be killed. In the second scenario, 100 kg of anthrax spores were released by an aircraft along a line to the windward side of Washington, DC. On a clear sunny day with a light breeze, 46 km2 would be affected and 130-460,000 people could die. On an overcast day or night with a moderate wind, 140 km2 would be affected and 420,000 to 1,400,000 people could die. On a clear, calm night an area of 300 km2 would be affected and between 1 and 3 million people could die.20
Though the results above were only estimates of probable effects, it can be assumed that these conventional biological weapons can produce massive amounts of destruction. But, with the advancement of biotechnology, the worst devastation may be yet to come using the new generation of biological warfare agents known as genetically engineered pathogens.
’Plants’ with ‘leaves’ no more efficient than today’s solar cells could outcompete real plants, crowding the biosphere with an inedible foliage. Tough omnivorous ‘bacteria’ could out-compete real bacteria: They could spread like blowing pollen, replicated swiftly, and reduce the biosphere to dust in a matter of days. Dangerous replicators could easily be too tough, small, and rapidly spreading to stop—at least if we make no preparation. We have trouble enough controlling viruses and fruit flies.” -Eric Drexler21
Biotechnology promises great benefits for humanity but if used malevolently could cause mass destruction. The National Intelligence Council stated in its study, Mapping the Global Future: 2020, that, “Major advances in the biological sciences…probably will accelerate the pace of BW [Biological Weapons] agent development, increasing the potential for agents that are more difficult to detect or to defend against. Through 2020 some countries will continue to try to develop chemical agents designed to circumvent the chemical weapons regime.”22 Advances in biotechnology have paved the way allowing the modification of naturally occurring pathogens into a new generation of genetically engineered pathogens. These new pathogens could then be potentially developed into extremely deadly biological agents that could be untreatable and uncontrollable making them more dangerous than conventional biological weapons.
In 1997, a study was conducted to identify future threats and uses of advanced biological warfare agents. The JASON group [here], composed of academic scientists, served as technical advisers to the U. S. government.23 Their study generated six broad classes of genetically engineered pathogens that could pose serious threats to society. These include but are not limited to binary biological weapons, designer genes, gene therapy as a weapon, stealth viruses, host-swapping diseases, and designer diseases.24 Some of these genetically engineered
pathogens, according to historical records, have already been produced and stockpiled. Each of the six classes will be analyzed in the light of its history and likelihood of its possible future use.
Binary biological weapons:
This bioweapon is made up of a two-component system with independent elements that are safe to handle separately but when mixed together form a lethal combination. This system consists of a virus and helper virus, or bacterial virulence plasmid. Hepatitis D is an example of a virus and B as the helper virus; a combination of both produces severe infection to the host. “Hepatitis D needs to infect cells simultaneously with the unrelated virus hepatitis B; both are primarily transmitted through sexual contact or by contaminated blood or needles. The D virus takes advantage of the proteins expressed by the larger B virus, and greatly increases the severity of disease caused by hepatitis B. Infection by hepatitis D alone is not possible.”25 Examples of bacterial virulence plasmids are the plague (Yersinia pestis), anthrax (Bacillus anthracis), dysentery (Shigella dysenteria), and E. coli (Escherichia coli).26
State of the Bioweapon:
Binary biological weapons are already in existence. The process of generating this potential bioweapon has been decoded as revealed by a former Soviet Union defector. In 1992, a defector from the former Soviet Union code-named “Temple Fortune,” described his experience with binary biological weapons. He revealed that the former Soviet Union secretly continued research on a “new and improved super-plague” (Yersinia pestis) despite President Yeltsin’s order to end their offensive biological warfare program. The defector explained that the super-plague “would not only be more resistant to multiple antibiotics but it would be made with a special new process…In its initial form, the plague would not be virulent – so it would be safe to handle and store…Russian Scientists had found a way to convert this non-toxic plague back into a deadly, antibiotic-resistant form as soon as it was needed for weaponization.” 27 Because of its properties and ability to be stored in large volumes for a long period without causing any harm, it is presumed that Russia still maintains this bioweapon.
It could also be argued that nations who have the equipment, material, resources, and knowledge could very easily produce these genetically engineered pathogens. Binary biological weapons are good candidates for future use because of their benign properties making them easy to store and handle. Because the components are not independently dangerous or hazardous they can easily be transported requiring less signatures for manufacturers. This also makes tracking more difficult.
The binary biological weapons processes are already known and are here to stay. In the wrong hands, bioweapons are an impending and dangerous threat.
Designer Genes and Life Forms:
The successful completion of the human genome project paved the way to understanding the nature and content of the complex genetic information that could be used to create new biological life forms. There are about 599 viruses, 205 naturally occurring plasmids, 31 bacteria, 1 fungus, 2 animals, and 1 plant genomic sequence known to date.28 This wealth of information regarding human genomes could expand the life forms using synthetic genes, synthetic viruses, and synthetic organisms.29 The designer genes have been one of the greatest breakthroughs in the field of biotechnology.
Using the technique called recombinant DNA technology (gene splicing), a single gene is inserted in an organism to alter its genetic properties. An example is the splicing of genes to produce insulin for diabetics. Genes responsible for generating insulin are spliced into plasmid DNA that can then infect bacteria. The infected bacteria will then multiply and the product is a large amount of insulin for medicinal purposes. 30 Despite the benefits of this biotechnology, the perils cannot be overlooked because genes can be programmed into an infectious state that could easily be transformed into a bioweapon.
As biotechnology advances and techniques are refined, scientists are exploring the complex genetic information to improve human life and perhaps create a new form of organisms. Another technique for gene therapy is the DNA shuffling. DNA shuffling—also known as multigene shuffling, gene shuffling, and directed in vitro molecular evolution—has allowed scientists to greatly improve the efficiency with which a wide diversity of genetic sequences can be derived. A quantum leap in the ability to generate new DNA sequences…can be used to produce large libraries of DNA that can then be subjected to screening or selection for a range of desired traits, such as improved protein function and /or greater protein production.31
Using this method there was an observable increase in antibiotics production generated from bacteria.32 This biotechnology undoubtedly offers great opportunities for medical purposes, but it could also have a significant impact in the production of genetically engineered pathogens resistant to drugs or vaccines, and increase virulence well-suited for bioweapons. State of the Bioweapon: Designer genes could become the most lethal form of bioweapon of the future. Nations that are interested in developing lethal weapons can openly use the genomic sequence databases to choose the genes they want to design. One assessment noted, “The ever-expanding microbial genome databases now provide a parts list of all potential genes involved in pathogenicity and virulence, adhesion and colonization of host cells, immune-response evasion and antibiotic resistance, from which to pick and choose the most lethal combinations.”33 With this wealth of information it would be possible to create diseases using synthetic viruses that could wipe out an entire population.
Imagine using synthetic viruses to recreate the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 that killed 20 million people; the worst ever in history.34 The scientific and technological breakthroughs in genetically engineered pathogens have already changed the future outlook of the biological weapons and its threat. In October 2004, the Spanish Flu strain of 1918 was partially reconstructed by researchers at the University of Wisconsin using reverse engineering techniques. The influenza A virus was fully sequenced and characterized the following year. Experts predicted that, “Although, the knowledge, facilities, and ingenuity to carry this sort of experiment are beyond the abilities of most non-experts at this time, this situation is likely to change over the next 5 to 10 years”.35 Though this experiment was conducted with the intent to prevent re-emergence of the devastating influenza pandemic, 36 in the wrong hands it would offer potential offensive bioweapons capabilities. Future Application: This is the bioweapon to watch for in the next 25 years. This technology is highly complex and only nations or groups that have biotechnological capabilities will be able to develop these genetically engineered pathogens. Advancements will continue to increase as the scientific world keeps finding new and innovative ways to manipulate human genetics.
Gene Therapy as a Weapon:
Gene therapy might just be the silver bullet for the treatment of human genetic diseases. This process involves replacing a bad gene with a good gene to normalize the condition of the recipient. Transfer of the “healthy” gene requires a vector to reach its target. Vectors commonly used are “viruses that have been genetically altered to carry normal human DNA” such as “retroviruses, adenoviruses, adeno-associated viruses, and herpes simplex viruses.”37 There are two classes of gene therapy: germline (reproductive) and somatic cell (therapeutic). The DNA changes in a germline cell give it the capability to correct a bad gene allowing this new fix to be passed on through generations. Somatic cell gene therapy is different in that it can only affect the individual who received it.38
State of the Bioweapon:
Gene therapy has already been used in both animal research and human clinical trials. Numerous examples of successful gene therapy application have been published and shown to have promising results; University of Michigan and Kansai Medical University, Japan, reported that “they had used gene therapy to restore hearing in mature deaf animals.”39 According to the study, “gene therapy can be used to regenerate functional hair cells, which are necessary to restore hearing, by using an adenovector to deliver the ‘healthy’ gene into nonsensory cells that reside in the deaf cochlea…upon delivery, hearing is substantially improved.”40 Another example of this technology was replacing a mutant gene that prevents production of an enzyme called “adenosine deaminase (ADA).” Blood was extracted, treated and reinjected into the person’s system. According to the report, this therapy was relatively successful; unfortunately other cases using gene therapy were not as successful.41 Though the progress of gene therapy is significant, there are more questions to answer and techniques to refine before this therapy becomes a viable treatment for many types of diseases.
Another significant gene therapy outcome was the mousepox virus experiment in Australia. Researchers inadvertently developed a lethal mousepox virus while attempting to prevent the plague, within the mice population. This genetically altered virus attacked the immune systems of the experimental mice; it killed all of them. Researchers also found that sixty percent of those mice previously vaccinated died within days of exposure.42 Although this was unintentionally created, if the same modified virus was added to smallpox, it could present the same lethality for humans.
Gene therapy is expected to gain in popularity. It will continue to be improved upon and could unquestionably be chosen as a bioweapon. The rapid growth in biotechnology could trigger more opportunities to find new ways to fight diseases or create new ones. Nations who are equipped to handle biotechnology are likely to consider gene therapy a viable bioweapon. Groups or individuals without the resources or funding will find it difficult to produce this bioweapon.
The basic concept of this potential bioweapon is to “produce a tightly regulated, cryptic viral infection that can enter and spread in human cells using vectors” (similar to the gene therapy) and then stay dormant for a period of time until triggered by an internal or external signal. The signal then could stimulate the virus to cause severe damage to the system. Stealth viruses could also be tailored to secretly infect a targeted population for an extended period using the threat of activation to blackmail the target.43
State of the Bioweapon:
Stealth viruses just like the gene therapy, require a vector to be inserted in the body and lay dormant until a trigger mechanism is activated either internally or externally. Imagine having a cancer causing virus enter a human cell and lay dormant until an external signal triggers the disease. When the signal gets activated the cells become abnormal and could rapidly generate abnormal cell growth leading to a tumor and ultimately, death. Now, apply this concept to a population where an HIV virus gets disseminated within a target population. At a specific time chosen by the perpetrator, the signal would be triggered to harm an entire population all at once. Although this bioweapon is futuristic it is not improbable and deserves to be examined.
Stealth viruses could become a potential bioweapon in the year 2035. [or earlier] There is much more to learn about the timing of the triggering mechanism to make this a feasible bioweapon. However, with the rapid rise in biotechnology, nations who have the capabilities to conduct research and development could certainly attain that level of knowledge. It would be highly unlikely to see groups or individuals possessing this bioweapon.
19 Secretary General (1969) ”Chemical and Bacteriological (Biological) Weapons and the Effects of their Possible Use,” in Bioterror and Biowarfare, ed. Malcolm Dando (Oxford: Oneworld, 2006), 111.
20 Malcolm Dando, Biological Warfare in the 21 Century (London, UK: Brassey’s, 1994), 9.
21 Ray Kurzweil, The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology (New York: Penguin Books, 2005), 397.
22 National Intelligence Council, Mapping the Global Future, Report of the National Intelligence Council’s Project, NIC-2004-13, December 2004, 100-101, http://www.foia.cia.gov/2020/2020.pdf, (accessed 10 Dec 09).
23 Michael J. Ainscough, “Next Generation Bioweapons: Genetic Engineering and Biological warfare,” in The Gathering Biological Warfare Storm, eds. Jim A. Davis and Barry R. Schneider (Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers,2004), 177.
24 Block, 51.
25 Ibid., 53-54.
26 Ibid., 54.
27 Tom Mangold and Jeff Goldberg, Plague Wars: The Terrifying Reality of Biological Warfare (New York: St.Martin’s Press, 1999), 163-164.
28 International Human Genome Consortium, Initial sequencing and analysis of the Human Genome, Nature, Vol 409, (15 Feb 2001), 860, http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v409/n6822/pdf/409860a0.pdf. (accessed 16 Nov 2009).
29 Block, 56-60.
30 The Gene School, “Application of Gene Splicing,” http://library.thinkquest.org/19037/therapy2.html (Accessed 21 Jan 2010).
31 Institute of Medicine and National Research Council, “Globalization, Biosecurity, and The Future of The Life Sciences”, 146.
32 Y.Z. Zhang, et al. 2002. Genome Shuffling leads to rapid phenotypic improvement in bacteria in Institute of Medicine and National Research Council, “Globalization, Biosecurity, and The Future of The Life Sciences” (Washington, DC: The National Academic Press, 2006), 147.
33 C.M. Fraser and D.R. Dando. 2001. Genomics and future biological weapons: The need for preventive action by the biomedical community. Nature Genetics 29(3): 253-256, in Institute of Medicine and National Research Council: Globalization, Biosecurity, and the Future of the Life Sciences (Washington, DC: the National Academies Press, 2006), 62-63.
34 Dando, Bioterror and Biowarfare, 106.
35 Institute of Medicine and National Research Council, “Globalization, Biosecurity, and The Future of The Life Sciences” , 48.
36 Ibid., 64.
37 Ibid., 191-192.
38 Block, 60-63.
39 Izumikawa, M. et al. 2005 Auditory hair cell replacement and Hearing improvement by Atoh1 gene therapy in deaf mammals in Institute of Medicine and National Research Council, “Globalization, Biosecurity, and The Future of The Life Sciences”, 192.
40 Institute of Medicine and National Research Council, “Globalization, Biosecurity, and The Future of The Life Sciences”, 192.
41 Lisa Yount, Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering, 3rd ed (New York: Facts on File, Inc., 2008), 49.
42 Dando, Bioterror and Biowarfare, 103.
43 Block, 63-65.
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