Thursday, 8 September 2016

How Destructive could be the Biological weapons?

What are biological weapons?  Biological weapons are created by genetic engineering. Getting it in a simpler way genetic engineering is basically a cut and paste technique of DNA. Every individual might have seen the movie Krish 3, in the movie Kaal, who was the villain in the story was featuring to develop Manvar who were half humans and half animals. This is what exactly genetic engineering. Providing you with one more example that how are insulin made, they are also a result of genetic engineering in which the insulin of pig is taken and allowed to duplicate in non-harming bacteria who can reproduce in 20 minutes creating a large scale amount of insulin injections. With genetic engineering, one can combine the DNA of any two bacteria, viruses, plants, and even mammals. When the DNA of two harmful viruses or bacteria are mixed, a new virus is originated with new symptoms and effects and these created viruses are known as biological weapons.

Investigations by the Sunshine Project show that genetic engineering has been used in the past decade to tinker with the genes of biological weapon agents. Researchers in the USA, UK, Russia, Germany and other countries introduced genes into hazardous bacteria that are likely to enhance the biowarfare possibilities of these microbes. Strains have been designed that can withstand antibiotics, are undetectable by traditional equipment, can overcome vaccines, or that cause unusual symptoms, thereby hampering diagnosis. In general, gene transfer can be used to build more effective biological weapons, it could be used to broaden the military biological warfare spectrum, making it more difficult to fight and control bioweapons. At the same time, it is very unclear that efforts to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention will succeed in the round of negotiations currently underway in Geneva. In light of the increasing biowarfare threat, the international community decided in 1994 to negotiate a Protocol to strengthen the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC).

It sounds like science fiction, but it is a deadly reality: lethal microbes, with no cure, invisible to detection systems, and able to overcome vaccines. In 'defensive' programs, researchers in the USA, UK, Russia, and Germany have genetically engineered biological weapons agents, building new deadly strains. And this is probably only the tip of the iceberg. Genetic engineering can be used to broaden the classical bioweapons arsenal. Through genetic engineering, bacteria can not only be made resistant to antibiotics or vaccines, they can also be made even more toxic, harder to detect, or more stable in the environment. By using genetic methods that are standard procedures in thousands of labs worldwide, bioweapons can be made more virulent, easier to handle, and harder to fight. In short, more effective. Military experts are perfectly aware of the danger of genetically engineered bioweapons, as their traditional defense measures - e.g. detection methods or vaccines - are easily sidestepped by the artificial microbes. The speedy development of genetic engineering is one driving force to strengthen the Bioweapons Convention and establish a verification system.

The history of biological warfare is nearly as old as the history of warfare itself. In ancient times, warring parties poisoned wells or used arrowheads with natural toxins. Mongol invaders catapulted plague victims into besieged cities, probably causing the first great plague epidemic in Europe, and British settlers distributed smallpox-infected blankets to Native Americans. Indeed, the insights into the nature of infectious diseases gained by Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch in the nineteenth century did not actually represent a great breakthrough in the use of infectious organisms as biological weapons. Similarly, the development of a bioweapon does not necessarily require genetic engineering—smallpox, plague, and anthrax are deadly enough in their natural states. But the revolution in biotechnology, namely the new tools for analyzing and specifically changing an organism's genetic material, has led to an increased risk of biowarfare due to several factors. First, the expansion of modern biotechnology in medical and pharmaceutical research and production has led to a worldwide availability of knowledge and facilities.

Many countries and regions, where 30 years ago biotechnology merely meant brewing beer and baking bread, have established high-tech facilities for vaccine or single-cell-protein production that could be subverted for the production of biological weapons. Today, nearly all countries have the technological potential to produce large amounts of pathogenic microorganisms safely. Second, classical biowarfare agents can be made much more efficiently than their natural counterparts, with even the simplest genetic techniques. Third, with modern biotechnology it becomes possible to create completely new biological weapons. And for technical and/or moral reasons, they might be more likely to be used than classical biowarfare agents. These possibilities have generated new military desires around the world, including within those countries that have publicly renounced biological weapons in the past. This paper deals predominantly with the last two factors, and with the use of real-life examples, we shall discuss the possibilities for such military abuse of biotechnology.

Today, bioweapon has become that tool which can change the face of humankind in a deadly and dangerous situation that can be even more dangerous than the nuclear weapon itself.

Genetic engineering is made for the curing the people not for killing the people.

These bioweapons should be completely banned to bring a peaceful state in the countries.

Written by Kajal Dahiya
She is a content writing intern at ReviewMantra who believes there are no shortcuts in evolution.

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