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The DNA Bomb

michael posted more than 13 years ago | from the splicing-and-dicing dept.

Science 144

Anonymous Coward writes: "While the world is scrambling to nail down the 1972 treaty of biological and chemical weapons, scientists are bracing for GM weapons. Some top experts in the field speculate in an article about "genetic assassination," "lifestyle targeting," "superweeds" to kill GM crops, etc. This goes way beyond just beefing up known pathogens or splicing a couple of them together, even beyond the 1997 fears of an "ethnic bomb." All very over-the-horizon, but fascinating. I'm glad these scientists stuck their necks out to discuss these controversial topics. Especially the step-by-step instructions for making a virus with one person's name on it given by William Nierman, the director of research of the Institute for Genomic Research, and a "lifestyle" weapon conceived by a Harvard geneticist. There's comment from the White House and others, too. At very least a fun read." A little premature reading about this today, but give it a few years... Reading about nuclear weapons in 1940 would have seemed outrageous too.

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Portfolio Theory (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#219067)

As the risk rises in one asset base, invest in other unrelated investments to lower the overall level of risk. This is why me need to maintain a population in space - off the earth - a fully self supporting and growing ecosphere. Move out with everything, not just the fun animals like Lions & Tigers, don't be an idiot and forget the plants and bugs too. get off my f**ing cloud - 47

Fun? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#219068)

I have to admit i havent read the article, but "fun" about weapons seems a bit macabre to me.
Platy

Robert A. Heinlein in 1941... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#219069)

...postulated a "race-specific" weapon (although a device rather than a chemical) for doing away with the "pan-asians". Check out Sixth Column , a.k.a. The Day After Tomorrow . More than slightly xenophobic, but consider when it was written. (My recollection of the book version of the 1941 serial, which was revised, expanded, and published in 1949.)

Targeting RU-486 (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#219070)

"The Army of God Manifesto, gospel to anti-abortion extremists, allows chemical and biological weapons in the crusade. Now think of a virus or bacterial spore that attacks in the presence of RU-486."

RU-486 usually kills the unborn child, after ten days of the mother waiting around for the miscarriage. It is also dangerous to the mother.

What nightmare scenario is VV imagining?

This One? [abortionfacts.com]
"In July of 1996, an FDA advisory panel recommended approval of RU-486 even though the American clinical trials were still not complete. Most shocking of all, this recommendation was made despite the unimpeachable testimony of Dr. Mark Louviere, a physician who treated a woman for a life-threatening hemorrhage two weeks after the RU-486 was administered. The woman had lost one-half to two-thirds of her blood. But what really bothered Dr. Louviere (but not the committee, apparently) was even though he reported the complication to the Planned Parenthood clinic which administered the experimental drug, a representative of the same Planned Parenthood clinic subsequently told the media that there had been "no complications among the 238 women" they aborted in this manner. "

What could possibly be done to make RU-486 more dangerous than it already is? Export it to poor brown people in third world countries.

What I'd like to see (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#219071)

As long as they make a bomb which kills off people who talk on their cellphone while driving - I'm OK with it.

...except that those people usually take care of themselves.

Man, have your forgotten Star Trek? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#219072)

My friends, the most bestest show of all time, STTNG, contemplated such weapons! Those damn research universities need to fire their "professors," and hire some ST writers.

Perspective (1)

Johann (4817) | more than 13 years ago | (#219073)

Reading about nuclear weapons in 1940 would have seemed outrageous too.

Apparently, Michael slept through his history classes because research on the Atom bomb (as it was called then) started before [d.kth.se] 1940.

On August 2nd 1939, just before the beginning of World War II, Albert Einstein wrote to then President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Einstein and several other scientists told Roosevelt of efforts in Nazi Germany to purify U-235 with which might in turn be used to build an atomic bomb. It was shortly thereafter that the United States Government began the serious undertaking known only then as the Manhattan Project. Simply put, the Manhattan Project was committed to expedient research and production that would produce a viable atomic bomb.

--
"In the land of the brave and the free, we defend our freedom with the GNU GPL."

The White Plague! (1)

tab (10163) | more than 13 years ago | (#219074)

By Frank Herbert, about a genetic bomb that kills only women. And he wrote it in 1982! (17 years ago...I guess if he got a patent on it, it wouldn't be valid anymore) ;)

Re:A dangerous world (1)

Photon Ghoul (14932) | more than 13 years ago | (#219075)

Or how eating meat in europe was a bad idea for a few months post-Chernobyl

It still is, isn't it?

mad cow, hoof-n-mouth...


Re:GM Weapons (1)

the_tsi (19767) | more than 13 years ago | (#219078)

What other Ford model should stock cars be based on? It's their main sedan, and that's what nascar's used forever.

If rusty drives one, it's good enough for me. :)

-Chris

...More Powerful than Otto Preminger...

Re:Here is the thing to do... (1)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | more than 13 years ago | (#219079)

Forget grapes. Version 2.0 should grow Twinkies as its fruit. Imagine acres and acres of free weed and Twinkies. Mmmmm....

-B

Re:Not fast enough (1)

Snarfvs Maximvs (28022) | more than 13 years ago | (#219080)

You read "Rainbow Six", didn't you?

Re:nuclear weapons (1)

ThePlague (30616) | more than 13 years ago | (#219081)

The first atomic explosion was in June, 1945, after Germany had surrendered. If they had existed in 1944, I suspect the "Iron Curtain" would never have existed.

Blind leading the blind (1)

ShoeHead (40158) | more than 13 years ago | (#219082)

Can't you see? There's a reason why "security by obscurity" is hated in some applications. It's because the thing they're hiding is very simple to follow through with--if one person figures it out, then it can be done easily by enough people to make a difference.

Consider nuclear bombs: if complete information was published, there would be enough parties capable of following through to make a BIG difference.

However, DNA bombing is NOT one of these subjects. The work and expertise involved is not enough to warrant concern as of yet.

Informative: 4 ? Puhleeze. Interesting, maybe, but definitely not worth 3.

Re:Here is the thing to do... (1)

Bios_Hakr (68586) | more than 13 years ago | (#219086)

That would definately help fight the munchies:)

Re:the problem (1)

Stonehand (71085) | more than 13 years ago | (#219087)

*shrug*

For a weapon, you wouldn't necessarily need to understand everything about cellular mechanics -- just enough to be able to identify, target, and irreparably damage.

Re:All you need is a DNA disassembler (1)

Stonehand (71085) | more than 13 years ago | (#219088)

Er...

a) You'd need to figure out protein folding given an amino acid chain and the cellular environment. I'm under the impression that this is a non-trivial problem.

b) You'd need to figure out where to *put* the DNA strand, given a retrovirus that could deliver it. A fair part of DNA is thought to be inactive (introns).

c) Ultimately, you need to be able to go from "This is my objective" to "This is the protein that does this", could be bloody hard depending on the vagueness of your objective.

Re:GM Weapons (1)

Stonehand (71085) | more than 13 years ago | (#219089)

If a virus killed its host quickly, and in such a manner that it was obvious that biohazard folks should handle it; or it was very difficult to spread, then it might not have a chance to spread beyond the intended victim and the mutation rate is less of a concern.

Re: Life adapts (1)

JoeGee (85189) | more than 13 years ago | (#219093)

Yes lipids and proteins are natural, but certain proteins do not occur within certain species, so for example a feline rhinovirus with an altered protein coat designed to infect human cells and insert the gene for, say, botilinus toxin would have no natural human defense, because such a thing had never before occured.

The human species did not evolve being infected by feline rhinoviruses, the feline rhinovirus infecting a human is not a natural occurance, and the human organism has no tolerance for large quantities of botulinus toxin being pumped into the body. The human host dies from a supercold against which he or she has no natural defense.

This is what I mean by an unnatural disease.

Remember that the mortality rate among some indigenous American people when confronted by common Old World diseases was also 100%, and these were not "new" diseases to the species.

Re: Life adapts (1)

JoeGee (85189) | more than 13 years ago | (#219094)

I agree with fleener. If a disease is a un-natural, it stands to reason that the only defense against it will also be un-natural. There are areas in any genome/proteome that can be targeted that would easily cause 100% mortality in the target species.

Barring the luck of having a completely isolated pocket of population, assuming such a disease is engineered to be easily transmissable I can foresee something being created that has a 100% mortality rate.

Save the trees! (1)

JoeGee (85189) | more than 13 years ago | (#219095)

Kill the people!

Where is the logic? Hopefully the superweeds are edible, or should everyone starve to placate the ELF?

Re: lifestyle diseases -- yes A.I.D.S. indeed attacks impoverished people, promiscuous people, and IV drug users. If you think it's a disease that somehow judiciously infects deviants, the majority of cases of AIDS worldwide occurs among heterosexuals. Shame on all of them. :>

Way back when A.I.D.S. was called G.R.I.D. (Gay Related Immune Deficiency) it was obvious that the hemophiliacs and transplant patients who were dying kinda missed out on the G.R. part.

New or crossover organisms thrive when they are able to successfully exploit available niches with no predation or controls. Disease organisms profit from the same mechanism that makes the zebra mussel the scourge of the American Great Lakes, and the American south a big blanket of kudzu.

Maybe kudzu and its effect on native species is something those who promote the release of any GM crop/weed should keep in mind. Perhaps when we engineer a new plant we should also have in the wings an effective control to prevent a designer SuperWheat(tm) from becoming the new American wild grass.

Re:No conspiracies here ... move along now ... (1)

Mononoke (88668) | more than 13 years ago | (#219096)

Sharing dirty needles with your friends is certainly a lifestyle trait, don't you think?


--

Osama Bin Taco Bell (1)

blackholebrain (90909) | more than 13 years ago | (#219097)

remember the evil already done [nytimes.com] by that stinking fucking stupid xbox-loving [xbox.com] butt-breath little dog... "YUM" my ass

Old news in the R3a1 world (1)

Isle (95215) | more than 13 years ago | (#219099)

Targets specific lifestyles... Hmm, microsoft, email spamming... hmm

I love U!

Preemptive strike (1)

SmokeSerpent (106200) | more than 13 years ago | (#219100)

How about a "lifestyle" pathogen that only kills people who work on genetic modification experiments?

Star Trek: TNG (1)

mobiux (118006) | more than 13 years ago | (#219101)

I know that there was a Star Trek episode that brought this issue up.

Someone Set Us Up The Bomb! (1)

joel_archer (124897) | more than 13 years ago | (#219104)

What you say?

Re: Life adapts (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 13 years ago | (#219106)

If it's built of lipids and proteins, it's "natural", or, at least, it works exactly like anything natural.

The reason why _some_ people would be immune to it is because toxins work by fitting together two molecules, one being the toxin and the other some vital molecule in the attacked being. Given that no two human beings are alike, the probability that everyone would have exactly the same molecule shape is vanishingly small. Not to mention that the attacking virus would have to penetrate the skin and defeat the immune system in order to get access to the sensitive part of the victim.

Of course, as you say, an un-natural chemical would not have a natural defense. A small and simple toxic molecule, not a protein, may be deadly for everyone. Like chlorine, used in World War I, for instance. But chlorine cannot be delivered by viruses or bacteria, it's about as poisonous to microorganisms as it is to people.

Re: Life adapts (1)

fleener (140714) | more than 13 years ago | (#219107)

Consider that it's super easy to send us back to our hunting 'n' gathering days. How many people would need to be lost in society before societal functions break down (production, transporation, communications, etc.).

The notion that not everyone would get killed by a genetic bomb provides little comfort. If it means living in a bad Kevin Costner movie [imdb.com] , I might as well grab a hammer and bludgeon myself to death right now.

Re:the problem (1)

fleener (140714) | more than 13 years ago | (#219108)

Ya, it's not like you can beta test a DNA bomb. Think about all of the unintended consequences (bugs) to be discovered once the bomb hits market.

Re:Americans already do this. (1)

fleener (140714) | more than 13 years ago | (#219109)

You forget, the aliens operate on a much broader time-scale than us. A week is but a day to them. Instead of dropping legions of warriors and unleashing bloodshed, or engineering an unpredictable genetic bug, they chose an much easier route... cooking up extremely tasty, yet outrageously unhealthy "fast food" and selling it worldwide.

With half the population dead from heart disease and the other half grossly overweight, it'll be a snap to enslave us or serve us on the dinner table.

That's great (1)

Tebriel (192168) | more than 13 years ago | (#219113)

But can you come up with a virus that's triggered by trolling? I'd buy that for a dollar.

Re:nuclear weapons (1)

chasbolz (195416) | more than 13 years ago | (#219114)

In 1940 Philip Wylie, a futurist and SF writer, wrote a story about war in the far future with atomic bombs. He thought his concepts were really novel, until the FBI showed up at his door, demanding where he stole the information from. At first he was scared of going to prison. Then he started wondering why the FBI was there, and got really scared!

Re:GM Weapons (1)

banda (206438) | more than 13 years ago | (#219115)

That was Cale Yarborough.

Re:Carefull Thought (1)

bobthemonkey13 (215219) | more than 13 years ago | (#219116)

have incontrovertable proof that they can target an arbitrary inidividual or group of individuals

I think that this is impossible. After all, bacteria and viruses mutate at incredible rates, and a "targeted" virus could very easily change its target, or lose its targeting altogether. Remember learning about exponential math in school? If you have one super-bacterium that multiplies every five minutes, after 1 day you will have:

1 day = 24 hrs = 1440 min = 288 5-minute periods
2^(288 - 1) = 248,661,618,204,893,321,077,691,124,073,410,000,00 0,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000 bacteria (or 2.4866161820489332107769112407341 x 10^86 in sci. notation)

Of course, only a extremely small number of those will actually survive in the limited growth medium, and multiplication will slow down and stop eventually. But on the other hand, it is probably possible to engineer a bacterium or virus with a much shorter multiplication period, and the out-of-growth-medium problem can be solved by deploying at many distant locations at once. Even with all of these unknowns, and assuming an error magnitude of a a trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion (10^60) or more either way, the sheer scale of that number gives a sense of how easily this could get out of control.

IANABiologist, and IANAMathematician either, so please correct me if I am wrong.

Re:nuclear weapons (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 13 years ago | (#219117)

It's a good thing we still have nuclear arsenals to sterilize the earth, should any of these get out. :-/

--
All your .sig are belong to us!

There's a lotta room for foobar here. (1)

Darth RadaR (221648) | more than 13 years ago | (#219121)

Whilst this sounds pretty scary, but I'm sure that a GM bomb is not going to be as hardy outside of a sterile laboratory. Yeah, sure, you can create some formula that will off the president with a handshake. What if, say, car exhaust, pollen, or whatever else may be in said environment causes the GM bomb not only to be ineffective, but also lart the person carrying out the deed?

I'm not saying that a GM bomb isn't going to be possible, but there's lots of ways things might not go as planned.

Re:A dangerous world (1)

von Moltke (224011) | more than 13 years ago | (#219123)

What you describe is already possible, and has been so for over a decade, using biological weapons. Anthrax especially could be used in this role. While it is possible to accinate against most bioweapons, dissemination of the virus, if done correctly, would be too fast to allow anyone who isn't vaccinated already, which is about 95% of the population, to be vaccinated. Culturing and distributing such a contagin would be much cheaper and easier than developing a genetic weapon. If anyone is interested, Tom Clancy's Executive Orders has a rather scary scenario along these lines. Also, my site has a paper I wrote on this subject a couple years ago.

Re:nuclear weapons (1)

michaelo (224201) | more than 13 years ago | (#219124)

thats plain stupid. on 02.12.1942 the first artificial chain reaction started in Chicago in a reactor built by Fermi. the bombs were built in 44/45. Thw whole things was theoretically dicovered around 40.

Re:The White Plague! (1)

BD55 (246849) | more than 13 years ago | (#219128)

The White Plague is an excellent book. Reading the article made me think of immediately.

Re:Wars, Famines and Pestilences (1)

H310iSe (249662) | more than 13 years ago | (#219129)

Finally, I think the only reason biological warfare isn't *more* common is becuase most people don't realize how easy biology is.

Great post, thanks. I've loosely followed this subject for a while and have asked myself the question "why isn't biological warfare more common" (or terrorism...) many times but haven't come up with a good answer yet. I'm not sure it's because people don't realize how easy it is - I mean, all you need is to know one person who's taken at least 2 years of college bio ... it seems if one was interested in destruction a-la-terrorism one would pursue thier interests *at least* far enough to chat with someone who has taken the requisite bio.

I bring this up because it disturbs me that literally any day someone could upgrade from releasing poison gas on the Tokyo subway to releasing anthra-ebol-pox in the same subway. And I really don't want to be in the subway that day. Basically. Maybe it's just my cold-war nuclear-holocaust-is-a-day-away-kiss-your-ass-good bye 1980's childhood fear that has repositioned itself but this article, and many others I've read, seem to say the opposite - that making a biological weapon of nuclear-proporions is much, much easier than making, well, a nuclear weapon of nuclear-proportions. And when i think about it, I get a little afraid.

If anyone knows why I shouldn't be afraid, please feel free to share...

Re:Biotech Hobbyist Kits?!? (1)

H310iSe (249662) | more than 13 years ago | (#219130)

*heh* that caught my eye too and I started doing my patented '1/2 hour to total knowledge through google' research (also available in a kit for $24.95). I thought Natalie sounded interesting so I started there [nyu.edu] . Wow, she *is* interesting, a definite want-to-meet (an artist who worked at Xerox PARC and has shown in both MIT Media Lab (didn't they do Purple Crayon Mush?) and the Guggenheim? cool). But very little info about the kit. I found her one-issue biotech hobbiest magazine [irational.org] at irrational.org which makes some reference to a 'SK-A1 Starter Skin kit' in the 'how to grow your own skin' article but I can't find the kit anywhere. There are some OK biotech links [irational.org] in there though.

At the end of my 1/2 hour trip I have not found the kit yet but, as usual, I found a boatload of other cewl [anat.org.au] stuff. Has anyone else found it yet????

Contrails (1)

Mall0 (252058) | more than 13 years ago | (#219131)

Sure, it's already being done, but the REALLY SCARY part is that those behind it aren't even people, but vast, shambling THINGS! Bob save us, and his divine minister Art Bell

Actually... (1)

Scoria (264473) | more than 13 years ago | (#219134)

Most [sciam.com] of [rkm.com.au] our [sciam.com] enemies [mad-cow.org] would [pbs.org] see [le.ac.uk] it [microbe.org] most [msu.edu] efficient [nature.com] to [fau.edu] use [airtime.co.uk] prions [utexas.edu] .

These are what scientists think are responsible for mad cow disease, as well as the Kuru disease from Africa. Supposedly, if used as a biological weapon (which is years away, if even possible), they could be targetted toward specific ethnic groups and people with certain attributes. (Yes, each word in the above is a link to a resource.)

Re:Is everyone asleep at the wheel? (1)

rgarcia (319304) | more than 13 years ago | (#219136)

The only official chemical being used to destroy illicit crops is glyphosphate, which is actually used all over the world (U.S. included) for crop erradication. Sure, there have been experiments with other chemicals, but not on such a scale as glyphosphate.
The people that report getting sick from these chemicals are either in direct contact with the crops and shouldnt have been there in the first place, or have been coerced by guerrilla troops, since it now widely known that guerrilla troops have taken over the drug business in Colombia and they have a HUGE propaganda program. 70% of guerrilla funding comes from illicit crops.

How do I know all this? I live down here and have worked on related projects.
The amount of fake news and general bullshit that comes from the guerrillas affects all kinds of news stories that come out of this country. You should read all of these reports with a lot of skepticism if its based on reports FROM here.
Im as CIA/NSA/FBI/??? paranoid as the next slashdotter, but the guerrillas are even worse (imagine that!) and Ill take Uncle Sams word over theirs any day.

Re:How are you gentlemen! (1)

scorcherer (325559) | more than 13 years ago | (#219137)

:-)

We're the killer team of /. crackpots (slashpots)...

--

How are you gentlemen! (1)

scorcherer (325559) | more than 13 years ago | (#219138)

All your base pair are belong to us.

--

Gilgamesh II (1)

famazza (398147) | more than 13 years ago | (#219139)

Have anybody read Gilgamesh II (comics). At the beggining of the novel they explain that a war has exterminated all kinds of primates in South America (gee, they were talking about me!)

Will us survive? It give me creeps!


Don't worry, I'm dumb [to|every]day

video games (1)

rudester (416023) | more than 13 years ago | (#219141)

hey, that sounds a lot like Syphon Filter

Re:Is everyone asleep at the wheel? (1)

pagsz (450343) | more than 13 years ago | (#219145)

Yes, they are. That's exactly the problem.

As long as any group (terrorist, nationalist, governments themselves) have reasons to deploy any weapons (chemical, GM, nuclear) they will. It doesn't matter if its illegal. It doesn't matter if its immoral. It doesn't matter someone has to take the fall for it.

If a group or government has (or thinks it has) a good enough reason, genetic weapons will...I repeat will be deployed. And hushed up (in the case of an offending government, most likely).

As far as the White House statements asking scientist to "hush up," this serves the government's goals and not the people's needs. Keeping it quiet makes it easier to deploy. It does not make it harder for other nations to find out. It will leak to other governmets via spies. This is inevitable. Keeping it secret allows governments to use GM weapons without letting their people know about it.

Yes, some of the ideas in this ideas are far-fetched, but for every seemingly silly idea there is someone willing to try it.

You have to admire the depth of human stupidity, though. We use our greatest achievements in the stupidest ways. Any invention that has the potential to save mankind is equally likely to destroy it.

Manipulating DNA to create the perfect woman,

Re:the problem (1)

blang (450736) | more than 13 years ago | (#219146)

If such weapons are used in a war, generals and leaders cruel or desperate enough won't care about any "bugs". Friendly fire has always happened, and casualties on your own side is something that has always been accepted by warhawks all over the world. As long as it kills more of their guys than our guys, they think it's a success. Completely off-topic: Did yo know thar "Mother's day" was started in the 19th century, as a demonstration against war? Now over 100 years later, with more wars going on than ever, it's just a tool to sell Hallmark cards and cakes?

Carefull Thought (1)

cyberlync (450786) | more than 13 years ago | (#219147)

I have always believed that the government needs the most advanced weapons it can get. Violence (ie. war) will never go away, so we should be as efficient at it as possible. (Just one second - doning flame retardent clothing). If this can allow the government to wipe out an opposing army and no one else, great lets do it. The problem comes into play when you cannot ensure that only your target will be affected, therefore, there is a very real possiblity of harming your own forces. This is not a good thing.

As soon as the scientest have incontrovertable proof that they can target an arbitrary inidividual or group of individuals, I say do it. We will save alot of american (british, austrailian take your pick of the allies) lives by employing this technology.

Alot of the technophobes are going to have a problem with this, as well as those who tend to believe in the inherent goodness of man. but when the start bringing up the inherent goodness ploy I always point out, as a really good, well reasoned response Hienlens book Starship Troopers (The book, not that pitiful excuse for a movie).

Or what's not published (2)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 13 years ago | (#219150)

In The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes, he comments that the German Nuclear scientists still in Nazi Germany knew that the Americans and Brits were working on Atomic devices of some sort because all the papers that used to be in the scientific journals stopped showing up and previously published scientists stop publishing.

Re:Not fast enough (2)

FFFish (7567) | more than 13 years ago | (#219151)

And you don't even begin to talk about viruses and prions.

Prions especially frighten me. There doesn't appear to be any bodily mechanism for combating them.

They also kind of appeal to my sense of irony. Here we humans are, thinking were about the most advanced damn organism to ever exist... and we could be easily wiped out by the most primitive quasi-lifeform that exists.

--

Re:A lack of Carefull Thought (sic) (2)

Medievalist (16032) | more than 13 years ago | (#219156)

/.
I shall dismember your post. Observe:

I have always believed that the government needs the most advanced weapons it can get.

Which government? Just the Third Reich, or any old collection of yahoos that believes they can morally perform acts immoral for individuals to perform? Bush's government? Andy Jackson's?

It seems to me you have already given up your individuality, and spit upon the Declaration of Independence, in your first sentence.

Violence (ie. war) will never go away, so we should be as efficient at it as possible.

Pedophilia will never go away, but I don't wish to become efficient at it. Evil religions [godhatesfags.com] will probably never go away either, unfortunately.

(Just one second - doning flame retardent clothing).

It goes well with the troling rig.

If this can allow the government to wipe out an opposing army and no one else, great lets do it.

Yay! And since nobody's going to come invade us, we can go to their countries and play! US homeowners have enough munitions to repel any foreign invader, even if we don't count ESR, so we'll have to send our bugs abroad.

The problem comes into play when you cannot ensure that only your target will be affected, therefore, there is a very real possiblity of harming your own forces. This is not a good thing.

Hmm, nothing to criticize here but the grammar. Oh, wait, I guess I can point out that enemy civilians and third parties just got ignored.

As soon as the scientest have incontrovertable proof that they can target an arbitrary inidividual or group of individuals, I say do it.

Did anyone else hear a volunteer step forward?

I'd like to see incontrovertable proof that incontrovertable proof can exist. Kurt Godel might've liked to see it too. (Look it up.)

We will save alot of american (british, austrailian take your pick of the allies) lives by employing this technology.

I pick Canadians, they always get a bum rap. Of course we may have to write off those dirty immigrants (you know, those supposed "freedom seeking refugees" from non-allied countries) trying to sneak through the war zones.

A lot of the technophobes are going to have a problem with this, as well as those who tend to believe in the inherent goodness of man.

Not to mention people who think carefully.

but when the start bringing up the inherent goodness ploy I always point out, as a really good, well reasoned response Hienlens book Starship Troopers (The book, not that pitiful excuse for a movie).

OK, you got me on that one. The movie really was pitiful. The Dean was rolling over in his grave.

But I can argue that war is a good, effective, desirable means of population control when fought strictly with knives, spears, swords, and axes. The problem with warfare is the environmental damage of modern weapons... still, people will create immoral weapons, and people will use them. Do you still think I believe in the inherent goodness of man, that goodness you seem ready to assign to the government?

I'm not a Luddite by any means, but c'mon, don't kid yourself that all progress is inherently good.

--Charlie

Re:Is everyone asleep at the wheel? (2)

Teferi (16171) | more than 13 years ago | (#219157)

A herbicide loaded with dioxin, you mean.
Nasty shit.

Old News (2)

KFury (19522) | more than 13 years ago | (#219158)

Wasn't this a Star Trek episode [startrek.com] in 1989? Five years from now NASA will be warning us about the Borg [microsoft.com] .

Kevin Fox
--

Just like an old Asimov story.. (2)

cowboy junkie (35926) | more than 13 years ago | (#219159)

Back in 1976 Isaac Asmiov wrote a short story called 'The Winnowing' that basically talked about eliminating overpopulation by infecting food to starving nations with a virus that targetted only a certain percentage with a DNA match (so they couldn't tell that it was the food that was killing them).

Of course Asimov wrote about 10,000 stories, so one or two of them was bound to hit the mark...

the great "conspiracy theorist" theory (2)

joq (63625) | more than 13 years ago | (#219161)

So I post relevant information and I'm a conspiracy theorist? I wonder how that got tossed into the loop? FYI I recently watched a program on PBS about the effects of war on the environment about two weeks ago. I guess the guys who produced it must be conspirators as well.

If you take a quick look at the effects of war you would know that most countries break the Geneva convention with their weapons via way of the chemicals used to create the weapons, the aftereffects of explosions, and the overall aftereffects of simple things like residue created from smoke, intermixing with other toxins such as carbon monoxide, etc., to form other forms of deadly toxins that kill quite similar to this.

So excuse me for opening up someone's eyes with factual based information. Next time I'll dig really deep into bogus information like crop circle theories to post some unsubstantied bullshit information, this way next time you could _really_ call me a conspiracy theorist. Oh sure I see your point now, I hijacked the packets used by the New York Times to create that article, then using CIA MKUltra [intellnet.org] techniques, I implanted the thoughts of those who commented on the excerpts from what I posted, into their brains via methods only a conspirator would know.

You caught me red handed

Re:A dangerous world (2)

rkent (73434) | more than 13 years ago | (#219162)

Given that Radiation stays in one place, more or less,

What?! Seasonal winds and jetstreams have a HUGE impact on the spread of nuclear fallout. Did you know that people in Sweden were affected by the fallout from Chernobyl? So, yes, if "every nation within several hundred miles" is acceptable collateral damage, then we can heave megaton nukes around without issue.

---

Scientists policing themselves... (2)

Speare (84249) | more than 13 years ago | (#219163)

As someone else pointed out, "The White House official says she'd like to see scientists police themselves better regarding what they publish and with whom they share data."

The government's desire for this to be kept under wraps is twofold, and both reasons show the standard naivite that all government weapon technology discussions show. One, other countries shouldn't get the idea because it could be used against us. Two, we might find it to be a very effective weapon against other countries.

First, any sufficiently advanced army will definitely read the enemy's newspapers and put students in their schools to get a pulse on the enemy's weapon ideas. They don't need details, just the abstracts. We do it to them, they do it to us.

Second, developing a new class of weapon is a step in the arms race which is always reciprocal. When we develop Weapon A, we better design Defense A to go with it, because someone's going to deliver Weapon A to our enemy to use against us. Any undefendable weapon is a step towards Mutual Assured Destruction, just as we have faced with nukes and are tasting with cyber-warfare.

Our government isn't all naive, and they know these arguments well. It's not enough to stop the trend, though; new weapons are developed all the time, and defenses are shortchanged because it's not an effective use of those funds. In cases like nuclear detonation and super-infections, defenses are impossible or severely limited, yet the weapon still fits the political needs for detente or intimidation. The weapons are still developed, and their eventual use against their creators is nearly inevitable.

Re:Targeting RU-486 (2)

Mononoke (88668) | more than 13 years ago | (#219164)

"The Army of God Manifesto, gospel to anti-abortion extremists, allows chemical and biological weapons in the crusade. Now think of a virus or bacterial spore that attacks in the presence of RU-486."

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Eleventh Commandment: Thou shalt kill the non-believers.

RU-486 usually kills the unborn child, [normally known as a fetus] after ten days of the mother waiting around for the miscarriage.

How dare she just wait around. She should poke around in there with an old coathanger. Then she should get off her ass and get me a beer.

It is also dangerous to the mother.

Although much less dangerous than the aforementioned coathanger.

"In July of 1996, an FDA advisory panel recommended approval of RU-486 even though the American clinical trials were still not complete.

Maybe they knew it would take over 4 years to get through all the political BS.

Most shocking of all, this recommendation was made despite the unimpeachable testimony of Dr. Mark Louviere,

Is that similar to the unimpeachable Bill Clinton?

But what really bothered Dr. Louviere (but not the committee, apparently) was even though he reported the complication to the Planned Parenthood clinic which administered the experimental drug, a representative of the same Planned Parenthood clinic subsequently told the media that there had been "no complications among the 238 women" they aborted in this manner. "

Well, certainly those people at Abortion"facts".com wouldn't lie to the media, would they?

Guess what. Almost every drug ever approved cause some kind of complications among a small percentage of the trial patients. Looks like less than 0.5% in just one clinical trial. Not bad, actually.

RU-486 has been in use over much of the world for quite some time now. Is this particular anecdote the only evidence of problems you can come up with?

At least I didn't log out, post anonymously, then log on later and mod myself up.


--

Re:nuclear weapons (2)

bmajik (96670) | more than 13 years ago | (#219165)

the fermi "reactor" was hardly a reactor.. he called it an "atomic pile". It was little more than a stack of radioisotype, with a few hand operated control rods. It was built under the bleachers at the squash courts at chicago uni, iirc.

You're right though. The bomb came later, in
44. June or July of 44, near Alamagordo NM.
It was suspended from a steel tower and detonated above ground.

I want to say it was June 22nd but I haven't read about it in quite a long time.

The two wartime nukes were August 6 and 9th, respectively, in 1945.

Re:A dangerous world (2)

bmajik (96670) | more than 13 years ago | (#219166)

Heh.

Did you forget about fallout ? Or how eating meat in europe was a bad idea for a few months post-Chernobyl ?

I make no argument with you about the ramifactions of genetic or even viral warfare - i've read "The Stand" :)

I just take issue with discounting the effects of radioactive fallout - especially to the extent that would be produced in an actual warfare.

There have been less than 10 (known) large-scale radioactive releases near populated areas in history.

Nuclear war is only less dangerous if you think of it as 1 bomb taking out a town as opposed to the reality of the situation: 1 Sub in our ballistic missle fleet has over 200 independant warheads. (aren't MIRV's a bitch ?). How many subs do we have ? How many silos do we have ? How many things do we have that the public doesn't even know about ?

Acutally, if the attack mechanism is something thats "alive" or acts alive, then it can be killed or thwarted (eventually, and with enough research). While 95% of earths population might rot and spontaneously explode, there'd probably be enough people randomly unaffected to survive and figure out a "cure" or an antigen.

On the other hand, short of a metric assload of lead sheilding, theres nothing you can do about a neutron bomb. You're just fucked if you happen to be nearby.

A fun excercize if we were allowed to know the numbers involved would be "how many nukes do we have per square mile of 1% or lower survivability fallout levels".

Re:GM Weapons (2)

Ravagin (100668) | more than 13 years ago | (#219168)

Just about any General Motors SVU, I'd guess...



-J

Reminds me of that book. . . (2)

NickAubrey (100942) | more than 13 years ago | (#219169)

Acts of the APostles, about evil phamaceutical companies and Gulf War Syndrome. . .

Sorry, couldn't resist. This whole bio-digital-weapons nexus *is* in fact the actual subject of my nanoscopicly famous novel, so I am more or less on topic . . .

yr frn,

Re:Wars, Famines and Pestilences (2)

arabelladragon (126231) | more than 13 years ago | (#219171)

Some techniques are already very cheap. If you merely want your own strain of anthrax, I think it could be done with some potatoes, a stove, a pot, some water, a flame, a needle, and a good microbiology textbook. Oh, and a source of anthrax. At the same time, I could isolate my own weak antibiotics using the same tools, but instead of a dead cow, I could use dirt for the source.

I think depending on what type of genetics you're trying to do, cost would not be so prohibitive. There are ways around things. TAQ polymerase is pretty important for PCR (a quick way to amplify particular genes) but TAQ polymerase is mostly expensive becuase someone patented it. I don't have to buy an expensive gel electrophoresis machine if i know basic electronics.

As for crop targeting - When we first started poking around in Iraq's biological weapons program in the early 90's, we found they'd been doing research on wheat smut, a fungus to target wheat in Iran. The Germans in WWII reportedly had a beetle ready to deploy to hit British potato crops, but surrendered before the first spring they would have used it. Russia had an extensive crop targeting program before they collapsed. Some other poster already mentioned Columbia's pissiness at us and the same fungus mentioned in that post is the same fungus people want to (possibly have obtained permission to?) test in Montana on hemp ... which borders parts of Canada which grow nonTHC hemp... Poppies have been targetted, as well...the only major difference is that as near as I can tell (and I have done much research on this, for school), artificial genetic manipulation has not been done. So far people seem to be relying on the timehonored methods of crossbreeding to develop better strains.

Finally, yes, things can backfire if you don't target well. I don't know a lot about Iraq, but I get the impression that the wheat smut was selected becuase Iran has lots of wheat and Iraq doesn't. This gets back to the lifestyle targetting mentioned before. Pick something your neighbor has but you don't. Pick a weapon that doens't tend to jump species. Modify the fsck out of 'em. Right now, we have bacteria that won't survive out of the lab becuase they need something, a nutrient perhaps, that isn't easily found in nature. It's the same kind of thinking.

Finally, I think the only reason biological warfare isn't *more* common is becuase most people don't realize how easy biology is.

Please forgive my longwindedness, I just gave a talk on this topic less than a week ago.

Life adapts (2)

mangu (126918) | more than 13 years ago | (#219172)

Wonder why aren't we all dead from [insert deadly virus here]? Because all living systems have defense systems. There's nothing magic about artificial viruses, or bacteria, or weeds; they are all built of proteins, lipids, etc. Maybe an artificial virus could be built as deadly as rabies, as contagious as the common cold, as incurable as HIV, but there would still be some people immune to it.

This article is the same "Boo! Look! A Genetically Modified being!" sort that the media is publishing now that the Cold War is over and we don't need to feel scared about The Bomb anymore.

Re:nuclear weapons (2)

mangu (126918) | more than 13 years ago | (#219173)

Off-topic and nitpicking, but the first nuclear weapon test was done in July 1945. They wouldn't wait a whole year to use those bombs in wartime.

And the first reactor was a true reactor, that is, it was a device to produce nuclear reactions. It had a crazy sort of safety device: a bunch of students held jars of neutron absorbing substances over the reactor. If the experiment went out of control producing much more radiation than expected, the students would be killed by the radiation, and the jars would drop over the reactor, quenching the reaction.

No conspiracies here ... move along now ... (2)

legLess (127550) | more than 13 years ago | (#219174)

From the story:

More realistic, argues Dr. George M. Church, director of the Lipper Center, would be a pathogen that targeted people with shared lifestyle traits.

*cough*AIDS*cough*

question: is control controlled by its need to control?
answer: yes

Not so far fetched (2)

kstantfw (187237) | more than 13 years ago | (#219175)

There is one mechanism that comes to mind to target a specific individual DNA sequence. It doesn't rely on functional differences between individuals, just genetic differences. Make a retrovirus that can integrate itself into the human genome (not an uncommon thing for viruses to do), but make the integration site tagged to the individual you want to target. Then make the virulent part of the virus (the warhead) coupled to genomic integration, so that integration triggers virulence.

Another way to accomplish the same thing might be to have a toxin that is activated upon DNA binding, but only to specific sequences. You can then choose the binding sequence to the particular target you're aiming for.

All of this is hard, but probably not impossible. However, you have to wonder if it wouldn't be just easier to use a strike with one of those fancy GPS guided munitions the US has. It's not clear to me why to go to all this trouble to kill a single person when there are probably easier ways to do it.

On the other hand, developing designer pathogens against a specific crop seems both easy and likely. People have already proposed it for use in the war against drugs, as a previous poster pointed out.

Re:Not fast enough (2)

tfoss (203340) | more than 13 years ago | (#219176)



Actually, Ebola isn't that infective if common preventative measures are taken. How do you think the health workers who finally make it to infected areas survive and eliminate the outbreak? The problem is simply that the areas Ebola exists in are the same ones lacking in appropriate medical experience and understanding or ability. Check what the CDC [cdc.gov] has to say about it.

Once again, this is one of those science fiction articles based on someone with a minimum of knowledge in the field and a vivid imagination. Pipe dream doesn't even begin to describe what is proposed in the article. Having a genome != knowing biological effects, relevance or disruptability. If DNA codons are the letters of life, the genome is simply a list of all the words used. Because I have a copy of webster's on my desk does not mean I have a copy of every book published. Ugh.

People do become immune to flu; it didn't help
Sure it did. The epidemic ended and we are still here.

-Ted

Frank Herbert also- The White Plague (2)

abe ferlman (205607) | more than 13 years ago | (#219177)

I think that's what it was called. It was about a virus that only killed... well, you should read the book. Hint: it wasn't white people, as you might expect from the title. Excellent writing, not set in the Dune universe. I highly recommend it.

Bryguy

making a virus with one person's name on it (2)

xFoz (231025) | more than 13 years ago | (#219178)


The question is, will it still work if they change their name?

Biotech Hobbyist Kits?!? (2)

Bonker (243350) | more than 13 years ago | (#219179)

"Others argue the Earth's crisis is severe enough that they'll battle corporate America by any means necessary. "Ethics, schmethics," writes New York-based techno-artist and researcher Natalie Jeremijenko, who develops biotech hobbyist kits and supports Bunting's efforts with Irational.org. "There is not an 'ethics' that is separate from the motivation for doing something in the first place and the accountability or responsibility one feels for it. "

Biotech Hobbyist Kits?!! WTF?! How do you cram all the necessary tools, viral samples, cultures, microscopes, etc... into a KIT?

Boy, I sure hope those don't fall into the hands of the local Aryan Nation/Nation of Islam chapter. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. In this case, I think it would be the *most* dangerous thing...

the problem (2)

tewwetruggur (253319) | more than 13 years ago | (#219180)

I think one of the more fundamental problems is that no matter how well we "map" our DNA, we still have very little idea exactly how it does what it does. There are huge gaps in what we think we know. Why do cells differentiate? We still don't know. So, yeah, you could try to make a "DNA bomb", but I doubt that it'll work as expected.

Interesting and SCARY (2)

MOBE2001 (263700) | more than 13 years ago | (#219182)

Thanks for the info. Do you (or anybody) have good links to websites, government or otherwise regarding this stuff. Any info on who is watching over the spread of biological technology would be helpful.

Ten or twenty years ago I would not be so worried. Now with the global internet, knowledge is bound to skyrocket. Anytime a new communication technology is introduced that multiplies interactions between peoples things start moving really fast. And with knowledge comes all the dangers associated with it. The problem is that, this time around, the lives of millions if not billions of people may be at stake. Haysoos Martinez! I need to get off this planet!

In a world where everybody hates everybody, maybe it's better to be ignorant. But then again, I keep holding on to the wisdom that knowledge is better than ignorance in the end. I hope I'm right.

Wars, Famines and Pestilences (2)

MOBE2001 (263700) | more than 13 years ago | (#219185)

Did not some weird guy with a beard predict this stuff about 2000 years ago? Did he not also say that the love of many would grow cold? I guess that if one country (or terrorist organization) is at war with one another, what's to stop them from targetting the other's population via genetically modified viruses. Heck why not target their food supply with a virus that destroys their crops? That would starve them to death! Problem is, this stuff can backfire and become a real nightmare for everybody, friend and foe alike.

What's really scary is that the technology behind all this biological stuff may become so easy to duplicate or so cheap to acquire that your average Beavis and Butthead may think it's cool to fool around with it. Brave new world, indeed!

Potential Abuse... (2)

Shattered (322148) | more than 13 years ago | (#219186)

Makes me wonder... Maybe M$ could take this and make an "Alternative OS bomb"... anyone that uses a Linux, Unix, etc... would melt... or better yet, get the undeniable drive to buy overpriced M$ software...

Ok, maybe not... but it could happen. Maybe.

Not fast enough (2)

Spamalamadingdong (323207) | more than 13 years ago | (#219189)

Wonder why aren't we all dead from [insert deadly virus here]? Because all living systems have defense systems.
Doesn't matter. Ebola is extremely infective if you are exposed and has a mortality rate of about 90%. If you have the kind of massive collapse of society that occurred in remote areas during the influenza epidemic early in the 20th century, just about everyone who fell sick would die because there would be nobody to take care of them. If too many people are sick you have no electricity or running water, and then you have even the "immune" people dying from dysentery, fires running through cities.... People do become immune to flu; it didn't help.

What's kept us safe from diseases like Ebola is the sheer geographic isolation of the places where it is endemic, the rarity with which people encounter the animal vectors and the route of infection going through (easily-avoided) bodily fluids. If someone engineered a virus which had the gene for the Ebola toxin but was spread by sneezing and blew it around an international airport, the entire world would be gefukt.
--
Having 50 karma is an itchy feeling; I know I'll get

Lifestyle Weapon? A.I.D.S.? (2)

Tech187 (416303) | more than 13 years ago | (#219190)

It's never seemed that plausible to me, but there are definitely conspiracy theory pundits out there who claim that A.I.D.S. is a 'lifestyle weapon' purposefully released.

Re:We're already there (2)

Lord INH (448816) | more than 13 years ago | (#219191)

They were actually using [b]mousepox[/b], not smallpox. Experimenting with smallpox would be a tad more dangerous.

HIV is older than you think (2)

cnelzie (451984) | more than 13 years ago | (#219192)

Recently I heard a NPR broadcast regarding some scientists that were able to create a roadmap based upon the known mutations that HIV has undergone. They used powerful computers and created a computer model of HIV they then had this model mutate forward. Later they compared their results with HIV from the period they mutated their model to.

Once they proved that they could determine what HIV would mutate into next they turned the computer model on a reverse course. They went back at least as far as the 50's. Then they took samples of virus fossils from hospitals in Africa.

They determined that these samples from some unknown disease in the 50's was indeed early HIV. It is possible that HIV existed for many years prior to that. They could only locate the samples as far back as the 50's.

I believe the show that I heard that on was the Todd Mundt show. It aired about 2 months ago.

All you need is a DNA disassembler (3)

scruffy (29773) | more than 13 years ago | (#219194)

It is not unreasonable to believe that we can create any DNA sequence we want. The problem is figuring out what the DNA sequence does.

Once we can debug DNA reliably, these science fiction fantasies will become real. Isn't that what molecular biology is doing? I see lots of reasons to be fearful of the future. Is it realistic? Currently, it appears that no one knows, but lots of people are working on the problem, which is scary.

The Bigger problem... (3)

brianvan (42539) | more than 13 years ago | (#219195)

is exactly what you state. Things don't work as expected. We'll be trying to cure baldness and we may inadvertently sterilize the whole human race. Most discoveries are made by accident. The good AND the bad ones...

Who wants to help? (3)

ffatTony (63354) | more than 13 years ago | (#219196)

I'm making a cowboyneal pathogen

War in the Third Wave. (3)

friscolr (124774) | more than 13 years ago | (#219197)

Check out War and Anti-War [amazon.com] , written by the Tofflers in 1993. It's all about war in the Information Age and how much of a difference targetted, smart weapons make from industrial-era mass destruction weapons.

A little premature reading about this today

That is ridiculous. It is essential to think of tomorrow's problems today.

"The release of atom power has changed everything except our way of thinking... The solution to this problem lies in the heart of mankind. If only I had known, I should have become a watchmaker."
- Albert Einstein.

-f

A dangerous world (3)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 13 years ago | (#219198)

Given that Radiation stays in one place, more or less, a nuclear weapon is relatively safe. A DNA weapon has no absolute gaurentees of safety, since the vectors can ultimately infiltrate every corner of earth. This becomes the blackmail of the suicide pack.

This ultimately is more dangerous than nuclear war, because in something like thind, with the relatively low costs, what are the odds that someone is ghoing to want to purify the earth of the scourge and polution of humanity? this would look very weird in the archeological record when the next big civilization comes along in 50 - 75 million years.

Check out the Vinny the Vampire [eplugz.com] comic strip

The original A-Bomb SciFi story (3)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 13 years ago | (#219199)

There is this bit from a Fantasy and Science Fiction Column [sfsite.com] about a yarn about the A-Bomb printed during the 40's:

I had read Szilard's satirical sf novel The Voice of the Dolphins in 1961, and his sf short stories, and from him heard the story, famous in the genre, of how in the spring of 1944 Cleve Cartmill published a clear description of how an atomic bomb worked in Astounding SF, titled "Deadline." Szilard mentioned to me that Cartmill's bomb would not have worked, but the story did stress that the key problem was separating non-fissionable isotopes from the crucial Uranium 235.

This story became legend, proudly by fans touted after the war as proof of sf's predictive powers. It was a tale of an evil alliance called theAxis---oops, no, the Sixa---who are prevented from dropping the A-bomb, while their opponents, the Allies---no, oops, that's the Seilla---refrain from using the weapon, fearing its implications.

As Campbell never tired of telling, in March 1944 a captain in the Intelligence and Security Division and the Manhattan Project called for an investigation of Cartmill."

There is a lot more in the article, so go check it out. There are plenty of links if you do a common web search for the author's name, etc. The story in question has been in a number of anthologies, but I haven't found it online as far as downloading it goes.

Check out the Vinny the Vampire [eplugz.com] comic strip

Nuclear physics nit (3)

Spamalamadingdong (323207) | more than 13 years ago | (#219200)

... short of a metric assload of lead sheilding, theres nothing you can do about a neutron bomb.
Not even lead will save you from neutrons; what you want is hydrogen (water). THEN you use heavy stuff (lead works fine, so does stone) to stop the neutron-capture gammas. A pile of damp earth over some concrete is a reasonably effective shield.
--
Having 50 karma is an itchy feeling; I know I'll get

GM Weapons (3)

astaines (451138) | more than 13 years ago | (#219201)

Some problems -

It will probably be possible to make a virus which would require the presence of certain specific DNA elements in order to replicate i.e. to infect a host.

What will be distinctly trickier is to make such a virus and prevent it from mutating, perhaps so as to no longer require such specific DNA elements before replicating. Unlike humans (and complex organisms) which have elaborate machineries for detecting and fixing errors in DNA replication, viruses have none.

The first moral - analogies from computer science only apply to DNA up to a point. After that point they break down badly. Organisms are not Turing machines.

The second moral - the genetically engineered anti-[insert your pet hate group here]-virus is quite likely to turn around and exterminate you.

Before building your bio-weapon read something like Paul Ewald's [amherst.edu] book on 'The Evolution of Infectious Disease' or this article [cdc.gov] . Better yet, don't.

Ethnicity specific pathogens (3)

No Tears In The End (452319) | more than 13 years ago | (#219202)

Two or three years ago, Israel admitted to working on biological agents that would target Iraqi people because of some unique genetic trait.

I don't know how much progress they made, or even if they are still trying but the work was being done.

Shhhh!!! (4)

supabeast! (84658) | more than 13 years ago | (#219203)

From the story- "The White House official says she'd like to see scientists police themselves better regarding what they publish and with whom they share data." Of course. Keep it all wrapped up. Leave it to the government to think of secrecy as an answer.

Re:Life adapts (4)

fleener (140714) | more than 13 years ago | (#219204)

but there would still be some people immune to it.

You mean you hope there would be some people immune to it. There are no guarantees.

We're already there (4)

eXtro (258933) | more than 13 years ago | (#219205)

A little premature reading about this today, but give it a few years... Reading about nuclear weapons in 1940 would have seemed outrageous too.
A little premature? Perhaps Michael should try paying attention to the news some time. Not too long ago some Australian scientists were experimenting with genetic modifications in an attempt to block fertility in mice. [go.com] They were using small pox virus and accidently created a super virulent strain of the virus. It was only harmful to mice, fortunately for humans.

Here is the thing to do... (5)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#219206)

Genetically combine the best Thai cannabis with Kudzu and unleash it on the world! Bonus!!! It is possible, and while we are at this task, let us make this cannakudzu bear strawberries and grapes too!

GM Weapons (5)

sharkey (16670) | more than 13 years ago | (#219207)

What would that be? A LeSabre dropped from a plane? A Taurus launched by a large catapult?

--

Is everyone asleep at the wheel? (5)

joq (63625) | more than 13 years ago | (#219208)



Government has been doing things like this for years via most of their wars. Happened in Bosnia where a lot of their water is contaminated, and their food crops are expected to suffer unless the US intervenes to pay for the clean ups. Happened in Columbia too with their (*cough*bullshit*cough*) war on drugs.

The application of a second "Agent Orange" over the Colombian Amazon, has caused tremendous alarm among international environmentalists and inhabitants of the region. But residents of Southern Colombia and the Ecuadorian border region of Sucumbios are now expecting a new and even greater threat to their health and their ecosystem - the release of a biological control that environmental activists are referring to as "Agent Green".


Fusarium Oxysporum is a fungus native to temperate and tropical zones. In its natural state it is well-known as a plant pathogen that affects the roots and vacular systems of a variety of cultivated plants, causing disintegration of cells leading to withering, rot and death. Doctor David C. Sands, a plant pathologist at the University of Montana and one of the chief researchers on Fusarium Oxysporyum (FO) calls it "an Attila the Hun disease," noting that there are strains of fusarium for virtually every cultivated plant and many wild ones. Some species of fusarium have also been known to cause illness in humans, especially those with depressed immunity from cancer or HIV-AIDS.

Read on [narconews.com]

There are many instances of these outbreaks of shit going on in everyday life except their quickly hushed, or many people just don't have a strong enough voice to be heard.

A third agreement breached by this joint policy of the U.S. and Colombia is the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity, signed by 157 nations during the historic meeting in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992. Article 3 of this convention confirms "the obligation to ensure that activities carried out within the jurisdiction of a state or under its control do not threaten the ecological balance within other states." Article 8 binds member parties to "Promote the protection of ecosystems and natural habitats without introducing exotic species that could threaten ecosystems, habitats or species." Article 14c states that "Each member nation will promote the notification and exchange of information regarding activities in its jurisdiction which could foreseeably have adverse effects on the biodiversity of another state, and will notify immediately in case of the emergence in its jurisdiction or control of imminent dangers for biodiversity under the jurisdiction of other states."


That is to say, both Colombia and the U.S. are engaged in chemical and biological warfare in violation of international law and their own
constitutions.

According to the July 6 New York Times report ("Fungus Considered as a Tool to Kill Coca in Colombia"), lawyers at the White House and the State Department spent years debating whether or not the use of Fusarium Oxysporyum violated international conventions on biological warfare. They came to the conclusion that international law would not be violated if Colombia made its own decision to test or use the fungus. One U.S. intelligence official who maintains a stance against the fungus is quoted by the New York Times as saying, "I dont support using a product on a bunch of Colombian peasants that you wouldnt use against a bunch of rednecks growing marijuana in Kentucky. And there is definitely less than unanimous support for this in Colombia."

Re:We're already there (5)

Speare (84249) | more than 13 years ago | (#219209)

I think the posting is about using genetically modified organisms as weapons. It's like throwing a resource-hungry but unusuable corn seeds on a pasture, because it will ruin our crops. Why use a naturally-occurring parasite like kudzu when you can slip it in secretly?

Super-infections are almost assuredly available in today's weapons arsenal, even if our current treaties may forbid their use. Stephen King's "The Stand" is a piece of fiction from about 1988(?), and describes what effect a super influenza could do to the world population. Regular anthrax is a likely real weapon, since the effects are so undetectable or similar to the common cold, up until sudden death a few days later.

Eradicating certain plants can be just as devastating. Kudzu has been mentioned here already, and California is realizing that the common but non-native eucalyptus tree is a pest that vigorously reduces biodiversity wherever it's been planted. GM crops tend to look like regular crops, but could affect the viability of the food just as undetectably as anthrax infects people. Plant and leave. In a few months, the victim has absolutely no harvest, or worse, has a field that cannot be reused for some time.

Genetic targets gone wrong (5)

PYves (449297) | more than 13 years ago | (#219210)

It's pretty intense that they can target you directly according to how your genes are. I wonder how accurate you could be, especially since all of our genes are pretty much the same.. I can see some disturbing results where attempts to assassinate someone specific person through a supposedly "individual" virus ends up killing everyone with a similar gene sequence.

2002 -"George W. Bush dies of unknown causes"

2017 -"SAT scores at record highs!"

(ok ok I'm just kidding about W.)

-PYves
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