by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted July 9, 2007 in DNA Around the World, DNA and the Law, Genetic Engineering
In contrast to James Watson and Freeman Dyson, Barry Kellman is a DNA pessimist and might I say, a scaremonger as well. Over the weekend, he warned us of the potential dark side of genetics in the San Francisco Chronicle. It’s enough to make me think we need to shut down genetics research RIGHT NOW until we can enact enough laws to keep the malcontents and their biological weapons at bay. But, of course, all the fear is just build-up to…a new book!
Bioviolence: Preventing Biological Terror and Crime is slated to come out next month. The book summary makes it sound like a primer and directory for bioterrorists*:
- What diseases should you use for “hostile purposes”? Smallpox, anthrax, or ebola.
- Who can help you create disease weapons? Rogue States and groups like Al-Qaeda.
- Who isn’t doing a good job of developing a strategy to “improve humanity’s security”? Law enforcers, scientists, public health officials, nations, and international organizations like the United Nations. Pretty much everyone!
At least one world leader is taking steps to protect his citizens – Russian President Vladimir Putin. What a star. Prof. Kellman tells us that President Putin has banned the export of human medical biological materials to ensure that his citizens’ genetic data won’t be used for making ethnic-specific biological weapons that can be aimed at them. Also consider this fair warning for people of Russian descent spread all over the world. In fact, if you’re of any ethnicity at all, be afraid, be very afraid:
It will soon be possible to manipulate viruses or bacteria so that they predominantly affect only Jews or Han Chinese or, yes, Russians. Even if that weapon affected only 10 or 20 percent of a group, the effects could be devastating.
Now he just had to go and mention the Chinese. Excuse me while I go don my biohazard suit.
*OK. I admit to tweaking it for satirical purposes.
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