Biological Terrorism: Our City Streets as the New Battlefield

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Biological Terrorism: Our City Streets as the New Battlefield The last 60-70 years of the twentieth century might be called the modern era of biological warfare. During this period, nation states developed biological weapons to be used on a far-away “European battlefield”. Even after ratification of the Biological Weapons Convention of 1972, the most impressive BW program in the history of mankind continued for 20 years, effectively cloaked in secrecy. Yet between 1970 and 1990, little thought was given to the possibility of a biological warfare or biological terrorist attack on US cities. Funding for biological defense in the US was minimal and most of the federal government was oblivious about the threat. In fiscal year 2000,…show more content…
The solution does not lie in procurement of things: safety equipment, clothing or gadgets for fire services or police. If preparation for chemical terrorism is HAZMAT equipment, treatment in the streets and a cordoned-off crime scene; preparation for biological terrorism is education, a robust public health system and broad interagency collaboration. The integrated system must include intelligence and forensics, the means and the will to retaliate, medical and physical countermeasures and a strong public health infrastructure, all bound by vigorous interagency collaboration and effective educational programs. We face a very complex problem; one of low-probability, but potentially high-impact. Calling for a “Manhattan Project” may actually be under-response. What must we do? 1. Technological base: We believe that we understand the relative limits of nuclear physics and chemistry, but we do not understand the limits of biology---for good (medicine) or evil (biowarfare). The future biological warfare or terrorism threat is relatively unknown; therefore, it will be difficult, especially in the medical arena, to prepare specific countermeasures for all threats. We must be capable of responding quickly and effectively to the unknown; therefore, our technical base must be deep and broad. There is not a military-industrial complex for biological
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