Ethnic bioweapon

An ethnic bioweapon (biogenetic weapon) is a type of theoretical bioweapon that aims to harm only or primarily people of specific ethnicities or genotypes.


One of the first modern fictional discussions of ethnic weapons is in Robert A. Heinlein's 1942 novel Sixth Column (republished as The Day After Tomorrow), in which a race-specific radiation weapon is used against a so-called "Pan-Asian" invader.

Genetic weapons

In 1997, U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen referred to the concept of an ethnic bioweapon as a possible risk.[1] In 1998 some biological weapon experts considered such a "genetic weapon" plausible, and believed the former Soviet Union had undertaken some research on the influence of various substances on human genes.[2]

In its 2000 policy paper Rebuilding America's Defenses, think-tank Project for the New American Century (PNAC) described ethnic bioweapons as a potentially "politically useful tool". PNAC went on to provide substantial staffing for the G. W. Bush administration.[3]

The possibility of a "genetic bomb" is presented in Vincent Sarich's and Frank Miele's book, Race: The Reality of Human Differences, published in 2004. These authors view such weapons as technically feasible but not very likely to be used. (page 248 of paperback edition.)

In 2004, The Guardian reported that the British Medical Association (BMA) considered bioweapons designed to target certain ethnic groups as a possibility, and highlighted problems that advances in science for such things as "treatment to Alzheimer's and other debilitating diseases could also be used for malign purposes".[4]

In 2005, the official view of the International Committee of the Red Cross was "The potential to target a particular ethnic group with a biological agent is probably not far off. These scenarios are not the product of the ICRC's imagination but have either occurred or been identified by countless independent and governmental experts."[5]

In 2008, the US government held a congressional committee, ‘Genetics and other human modification technologies: sensible international regulation or a new kind of arms race?’, during which it was discussed how “we can anticipate a world where rogue (and even not-so-rogue) states and non-state actors attempt to manipulate human genetics in ways that will horrify us”.[6]

In 2012, The Atlantic wrote that a specific virus that targets individuals with a specific DNA sequence is within possibility in the near future. The magazine put forward a hypothetical scenario of a virus which caused mild flu to the general population but deadly symptoms to the President of the United States. They cite advances in personalized gene therapy as evidence.[7]

In 2016, Foreign Policy magazine suggested the possibility of a virus used as an ethnic bioweapon that could sterilize a "genetically-related ethnic population."[8]

Israeli "ethno-bomb" controversy

In November 1998, The Sunday Times reported that Israel was attempting to build an "ethno-bomb" containing a biological agent that could specifically target genetic traits present amongst Arab populations.[9] Wired News also reported the story,[10][11] as did Foreign Report.[12]

Microbiologists and geneticists were skeptical towards the scientific plausibility of such a biological agent.[13] The New York Post, describing the claims as "blood libel", reported that the likely source for the story was a work of science fiction by Israeli academic Doron Stanitsky. Stanitsky had sent his completely fictional work about such a weapon to Israeli newspapers two years before. The article also noted the views of genetic researchers who claimed the idea as "wholly fantastical", with others claiming that the weapon was theoretically possible.[14][15]

A planned second installment of the article never appeared, and no sources were ever identified. Neither of the authors of the Sunday Times story, Uzi Mahnaimi and Marie Colvin, have spoken publicly on the matter.

Russian ban on export of biological samples

In May 2007, a Russian newspaper Kommersant reported that the Russian government banned all exports of human biosamples.[16] The report claims that the reason for the ban was a secret FSB report about on-going development of "genetic bioweapons" targeting Russian population by Western institutions. The report mentions the Harvard School of Public Health, American International Health Alliance, Department of Medical Biotechnology of Jagiellonian University, United States Department of Justice Environment and Natural Resources Division, Institute of Genetics and Biotechnology Warsaw University, and United States Agency for International Development.

See also


  1. ^ William Cohen (1997-04-28). "Terrorism, Weapons of Mass Destruction, and U.S. Strategy". Sam Nunn Policy Forum, University of Georgia. Archived from the original on 2004-11-18. Retrieved 2006-07-12.
  2. ^ Interview of Dr Christopher Davis, UK Defence Intelligence Staff, Plague War, Frontline, PBS, October 1998
  3. ^ "Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategies, Forces, and Resources For a New Century" (PDF). September 2000. Archived from the original on August 17, 2013. Retrieved May 30, 2007.CS1 maint: Unfit url (link)
  4. ^ Adam, David (28 October 2004), Could you make a genetically targeted weapon?, The Guardian
  5. ^ Preventing the use of biological and chemical weapons: 80 years on, Official Statement by Jacques Forster, vice-president of the ICRC, 10-06-2005
  6. ^ "Ethnic-bioweapons: between conspiracy and reality - The Badger". The Badger. 2018-05-08. Retrieved 2018-06-21.
  7. ^ Hessel, Andrew (2012), Hacking the President’s DNA, The Atlantic
  8. ^ Brooks, Rosa (2016-03-15). "Can There Be War Without Soldiers?". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 2016-06-15.
  9. ^ Uzi Mahnaimi; Marie Colvin (1998-11-15). "Israel planning 'ethnic' bomb as Saddam caves in". The Sunday Times.
  10. ^ "Israel's Ethnic Weapon?". Wired News. 1998-11-16.
  11. ^ James Ridgeway (1999-02-02). "Ethnic Warfare". The Village Voice.
  12. ^ "UPI report".
  13. ^ Stein, Jeff. "Debunking the "ethno-bomb"". Salon. Retrieved 25 February 2017.
  14. ^ "Now Playing: A Blood Libel For The 21st Century". New York Post. 1998-11-22.
  15. ^ "Google Groups quoting Haaretz". Retrieved 2017-11-14.
  16. ^ "Россия блюдет человеческий образец". Kommersant. 2007-05-29. Retrieved 2007-05-29.

External links


Agroterrorism, also known as agriterrorism, is a malicious attempt to disrupt or destroy the agricultural industry and/or food supply system of a population through "the malicious use of plant or animal pathogens to cause devastating disease in the agricultural sectors". It is closely related to the concepts of biological warfare and entomological warfare, except carried out by non-state parties.

A hostile attack, towards an agricultural environment, including infrastructures and processes, in order to significantly damage national and international political interests.

April 2013 ricin letters

On April 15, 2013, an envelope that preliminarily tested positive for ricin, a highly toxic protein, was intercepted at the US Capitol's off-site mail facility in Washington, D.C. According to reports, the envelope was addressed to the office of Mississippi Republican Senator Roger Wicker. On April 17, 2013, an envelope addressed to President of the United States Barack Obama preliminarily tested positive for ricin.Both letters, which were mailed from Memphis, Tennessee, included the phrases "No one wanted to listen to me before. There are still 'Missing Pieces.' Maybe I have your attention now even if that means someone must die. This must stop. To see a wrong and not expose it, is to become a silent partner to its continuance." and "I am KC and I approve this message."A third letter mailed to a Mississippi judge, Lee County Justice Court Judge Sadie Holland, that was received and opened on April 10, contained similar language and was sent for testing. The letters tested positive for ricin during FBI testing.

Australia Group

The Australia Group is a multilateral export control regime (MECR) and an informal group of countries (now joined by the European Commission) established in 1985 (after the use of chemical weapons by Iraq in 1984) to help member countries to identify those exports which need to be controlled so as not to contribute to the spread of chemical and biological weapons.The group, initially consisting of 15 members, held its first meeting in Brussels, Belgium, in September 1989. With the incorporation of India on January 19, 2018, it now has 43 members, including Australia, the European Commission, all 28 member states of the European Union, Ukraine, and Argentina. The name comes from Australia's initiative to create the group. Australia manages the secretariat.

The initial members of the group had different assessments of which chemical precursors should be subject to export control. Later adherents initially had no such controls. Today, members of the group maintain export controls on a uniform list of 54 compounds, including several that are not prohibited for export under the Chemical Weapons Convention, but can be used in the manufacture of chemical weapons. In 2002, the group took two important steps to strengthen export control. The first was the "no-undercut" requirement, which stated that any member of the group considering making an export to another state that had already been denied an export by any other member of the group must first consult with that member state before approving the export. The second was the "catch-all" provision, which requires member states to halt all exports that could be used by importers in chemical or biological weapons programs, regardless of whether the export is on the group's control lists. Delegations representing the members meet every year in Paris, France.


The concept of biocontainment is related to laboratory biosafety and pertains to microbiology laboratories in which the physical containment of pathogenic organisms or agents (bacteria, viruses, and toxins) is required, usually by isolation in environmentally and biologically secure cabinets or rooms, to prevent accidental infection of workers or release into the surrounding community during scientific research. The term "biocontainment" was coined in 1985, but the concept stretches back at least to the 1940s.

Biological agent

A biological agent—also called bio-agent, biological threat agent, biological warfare agent, biological weapon, or bioweapon—is a bacterium, virus, protozoan, parasite, or fungus that can be used purposefully as a weapon in bioterrorism or biological warfare (BW). In addition to these living and/or replicating pathogens, toxins and biotoxins are also included among the bio-agents. More than 1,200 different kinds of potentially weaponizable bio-agents have been described and studied to date.

Biological agents have the ability to adversely affect human health in a variety of ways, ranging from relatively mild allergic reactions to serious medical conditions, including serious injury, as well as serious or permanent disability or even death. Many of these organisms are ubiquitous in the natural environment where they are found in water, soil, plants, or animals. Bio-agents may be amenable to "weaponization" to render them easier to deploy or disseminate. Genetic modification may enhance their incapacitating or lethal properties, or render them impervious to conventional treatments or preventives. Since many bio-agents reproduce rapidly and require minimal resources for propagation, they are also a potential danger in a wide variety of occupational settings.The Biological Weapons Convention (1972) is an international treaty banning the use or stockpiling of bio-agents; as of February 2015 there were 171 state signatories. Bio-agents are, however, widely studied for both defensive and general medical purposes under various biosafety levels and within biocontainment facilities throughout the world. In 2008, according to a U.S. Congressional Research Service report, China, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Russia, Syria, and Taiwan were considered, with varying degrees of certainty, to be maintaining bio-agents in an offensive BW program capacity.

Biological hazard

Biological hazards, also known as biohazards, refer to biological substances that pose a threat to the health of living organisms, primarily that of humans. This can include samples of a microorganism, virus or toxin (from a biological source) that can affect human health. It can also include substances harmful to other animals.

The term and its associated symbol are generally used as a warning, so that those potentially exposed to the substances will know to take precautions. The biohazard symbol was developed in 1966 by Charles Baldwin, an environmental-health engineer working for the Dow Chemical Company on the containment products.It is used in the labeling of biological materials that carry a significant health risk, including viral samples and used hypodermic needles.

In Unicode, the biohazard symbol is U+2623 (☣).

Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CCDC; Chinese: 中国疾病预防控制中心) is an agency of the Ministry of Health of the People's Republic of China based in Beijing, China. It works to protect public health and safety by providing information to enhance health decisions, and it promotes health through partnerships with provincial health departments and other organizations. The CCDC focuses national attention on developing and applying disease prevention and control (especially infectious diseases), environmental health, occupational safety and health, health promotion, prevention and education activities designed to improve the health of the people of the People's Republic of China. George F. Gao is the director general. He has made contributions to the study of inter-species pathogen transmission. He organized the first World Flu Day on November 1 2018, commemorating the centenary of the influenza Epidemic of 1918-19. It is also the 15-year commemoration of the severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak, which led to China prioritising investment in the public health system.

Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism

The Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism 2005 (CECPT) is a regional multilateral treaty negotiated under the auspices of the Council of Europe. It was concluded in Warsaw on 16 May 2005. Most notable amongst its provisions are the three new offences which it defines: Public Provocation to Commit a "Terrorist Offence"; Solicitation of Persons to Commit "Terrorist Offences"; and Provision of Training For "Terrorist Offences". Parties are required to establish these offences in their national legal systems. However the obligation only applies in respect of behaviour where there is an international nexus of some sort. A "terrorist offence" is defined as any of the offences defined under the 12 existing international conventions on terrorism presently in force.

Defense Threat Reduction Agency

The Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) is an agency within the United States Department of Defense (DoD) and is the official Combat Support Agency for countering weapons of mass destruction (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high explosives). According to the agency's Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2018 to 2022, the DTRA mission "enables DoD and the U.S. Government to prepare for and combat weapons of mass destruction and improvised threats and to ensure nuclear deterrence." The agency is headquartered in Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

Entomological warfare

Entomological warfare (EW) is a type of biological warfare that uses insects to attack the enemy. The concept has existed for centuries and research and development have continued into the modern era. EW has been used in battle by Japan and several other nations have developed and been accused of using an entomological warfare program.

Gene Wars

Gene Wars may refer to:

The Gene Wars universe, a science fiction and fantasy universe developed by C. J. Cherryh

The science fiction short story "Gene Wars" by Paul J. McAuley

Genewars, a Bullfrog Productions strategy game from 1996

Ethnic bioweapon, a weapon that harms people having certain genes

Global Health Security Initiative

The Global Health Security Initiative (GHSI) is an international partnership between countries in order to supplement and strengthen their preparedness to respond to threats of biological, chemical, radio-nuclear terrorism (CBRN) and pandemic influenza.

Health Threat Unit

The Health Threat Unit of the Directorate-General for Health and Consumer Protection (European Commission), is responsible for terrorism surveillance and early warning of biological, chemical, and radiological threats within the European Union. The Health Threat Unit runs the Rapid Alert System, which conducts surveillance on communicable diseases and diseases caused by acts of bioterrorism. The surveillance data are coordinated and evaluated by the Health Emergency Operations Facility. Health threat information and warnings are sent to the member states by the Communication and Crisis Center (BICHAT) and the Security Office in Brussels, Belgium.

Jonathan B. Tucker

Jonathan B. Tucker (August 2, 1954 – July 31, 2011) was a United States chemical and biological weapons expert.

National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center

The National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center (NBACC) is a government biodefense research laboratory created by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and located at the sprawling biodefense campus at Fort Detrick in Frederick, MD, USA. The NBACC (pronounced EN-back) is the principal U.S. biodefense research institution engaged in laboratory-based threat assessment and bioforensics. NBACC is an important part of the National Interagency Biodefense Campus (NIBC) also located at Fort Detrick for the US Army, National Institutes of Health and the US Department of Agriculture.

National Center for Disease Control and Public Health (Georgia)

National Center for Disease Control and Public Health (Georgian: დაავადებათა კონტროლისა და საზოგადოებრივი ჯანმრთელობის ეროვნული ცენტრი) is a national agency of the country of Georgia, under the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs. It is based in the capital Tbilisi. The NCDC is tasked with protecting the public's health against dangerous outbreaks of disease. Its headquarters lie on Asatiani Street in the Saburtalo district of the city, and the agency employs 440 people, 65% of whom have university degrees.The NCDC's is assisted by a number of regional health stations around the country, which also conduct immunization and detection.

The responsibilities the NCDC is not only to carry out surveillance of communicable and non-communicable diseases, but also to investigate outbreaks of particular interest, one notable case being the outbreak of Tularemia in 2006.

The NCDC also has responsibility for securing an extensive repository of live pathogens, which have been accumulated over the last century. This national reference laboratory used to be located in the top floor of the main building on Asatiani St, but was moved to a newly built facility in Alexeyevka, a suburb to Tbilisi a few kilometers from the Tbilisi International Airport. This Central Public Health Reference Laboratory was formally opened on 18 March 2011.The new facility is a joint Georgia-USA project which complements existing facilities in Bangkok, Thailand and Nairobi, Kenya. It is part of Georgia's efforts to ensure biosecurity and biosafety.

National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity

The National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity is a panel of experts that report to the Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. It is tasked with recommending policies on such questions as how to prevent published research in biotechnology from aiding terrorism, without slowing scientific progress. It is composed of non-voting ex officio and appointed voting members. The current Chair of the NSABB is Samuel L. Stanley, Jr., M.D..As of 2017, the ex officio members were:

Department of Commerce:

Jason Boehm, Ph.D., Office of Program Analysis and Evaluation, National Institute of Standards and Technology Division Head

Department of Defense :

David Christian Hassell, Ph.D., Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear and Chemical and Biological Programs

Department of Energy:

Sharlene Weatherwax, Ph.D., Associate Director of Science for Biological and Environmental Research

Department of Health and Human Services

Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., Director, National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Disease

Sally Phillips, R.N., Ph.D., Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Policy and Planning, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response

CAPT Carmen Maher, Deputy Director, Office of Counterterrorism and Emerging Threats (OCET), Office of the Commissioner, Food and Drug Administration

Michael W. Shaw, Ph.D., Senior Advisor for Laboratory Science, Office of Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Department of Homeland Security

Wendy Hall, Ph.D., Special Senior Advisor for Biological Threats, Office of Chemical, Biological, and Nuclear Policy

Department of the Interior

Anne E. Kinsinger, Associate Director for Biology, U.S. Geological Survey

Department of Justice

Edward You, Supervisory Special Agent, FBI Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate

Department of State

Christopher Park, Director, Biological Policy Staff, Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation

Department of Veterans Affairs

Brenda A. Cuccherini, Ph.D., M.P.H. Special Assistant to the Chief Research and Development Officer, Veterans Health Administration

Environmental Protection Agency,

Gregory Sayles, Ph.D., Acting Director, National Homeland Security Research Center

Executive Office of the President

Gerald Epstein, Ph.D., Assistant Director for Biosecurity and Emerging Technologies, National Security and International Affairs Division, Office of Science and Technology Policy

Intelligence Community

Amanda Dion-Schultz, Ph.D., Office of the Chief Scientist

Robert M. Miceli, Ph.D., Biological Issue Manager and Advisor to the Director, Office of the Director of National Intelligence

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

David R. Liskowsky, Ph.D., Director, Medical Policy & Ethics, Office of the Chief Health and Medical Officer

Department of Agriculture

Steven Kappes, Ph.D. Deputy Administrator, Animal Production and Protection

Prayer of the Rollerboys

Prayer of the Rollerboys is a 1990 independent science fiction film directed by Rick King and starring Corey Haim and Patricia Arquette.

The Demon in the Freezer

The Demon in the Freezer is a 2002 non-fiction book (ISBN 0345466632) on the biological weapon agents smallpox and anthrax and how the American government develops defensive measures against them. It was written by journalist Richard Preston, also author of the best-selling book The Hot Zone (1994), about outbreaks of Ebola virus in Africa and Reston, Virginia and the U.S. government's response to them.

The book is primarily an account of the Smallpox Eradication Program (1967–1980), the ongoing perception by the U.S. government that smallpox is still a potential bioterrorism agent, and the controversy over whether or not the remaining samples of smallpox virus in Atlanta and Moscow (the "demon" in the freezer) should be finally destroyed. However, the writer was overtaken by events—the 9/11 attacks and the anthrax letter incidents (called "Amerithrax"), both in 2001—and so much of the book interweaves the anthrax investigation with the smallpox material in a manner some critics have said is "awkward" and somewhat "disjointed".

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