BioGen Weapons and Madmen
Throughout human history, many of those in search of power and wealth have demonstrated that they will do anything to achieve their goals. One of the lowest and most inhumane methodologies available to these
people, are biological and genetically modified biological weapons.
While the same old threats still exist from terrorists and warring countries, there are new threats rapidly emerging. These new threats come from large competitive corporations and scientists attempting to play
God in an arena where the smallest mistake could wipe out all of Gods creations.
We are only three months into the 21st century and already our new knowledge has created unprecedented genetically modified terror.
Lessons From History
Our interest and dependence on the biological world of disease has been demonstrated throughout history. We have learnt to fear the consequences of
these efficient killers, as well as respect them. We have continually sought to control our fears by controlling the killers and using them to our advantage.
Through disease, we have won many battles and secured the safety of our people at the expense of tortured enemy lives.
Assyrians contaminated the water supply of their enemies by using Rye Ergon. The master tactician Solon used skunk cabbage to poison the water supply during his siege of Krissa.
During an attack in the Ukraine area, Tatar armies catapulted comrades who died of bubonic plague into the city.
At the battle of Carolstein, plague-stricken soldiers and 2000 cartloads of excrement were hurled into the ranks of enemy troops.
Captain Ecuyer of the Royal Americans, under the guise of friendship, gave the native Americans two blankets and a handkerchief contaminated with smallpox.
The Germans used chlorine and Mustard Gas extensively. Anthrax and glanders were used to infect sheep destined for Russia. Germany also tried to infect US horses destined for
the Western front.
Despite efforts by the international community, Japan dabbled with biological and chemical weapons throughout the 1930s and used them against the Chinese when they invaded China and
The US became aware of Japanese biological programs and decided to start their own. The US was apparently informed of horrific experimentation on American POWs by the Japanese but
did nothing about the problem. Before the Japanese finally surrendered, the American military offered immunity to members involved in exchange for data produced by the
experiments. In essence, America's biological warfare programs are stained with the blood of its own betrayed soldiers.
Iraq used chemical weapons against neighbouring Iran.
These lessons from history have no doubt been carefully learnt and studied by our power seeking governments of today.
In 1960, millions of polio vaccine doses from the early 1950s were discovered to contain simian virus 40 (SV-40). SV-40 was resistant to the "neutralizing effects" of the carcinogenic germicide formalin that was added
to the vaccine. This cancer-causing DNA altering virus is now wired into the genetic structure of over 500 million people throughout the world, thanks to government oversights. You could be one of them.
A 1969 US military document released through the Freedom of Information Act, has shown that the government called for the development of AIDS-like
viruses by 1975. During the past two decades, at least six internationally known authorities have advanced theories that the AIDS virus was developed by biological weapons researches.
During the 1950s, an Australian doctor named Archie Kalokerinos spent 17 years in the outback with native Aborigines. His experiences left him
horrified at the death rate of the natives resulting from various bacterial and viral infections. He concluded that they were deficient in vitamin C, and that
supplying them with appropriate supplementary vitamins could have halved the fatality rates.
However, in 1970 the Australian government increased their vaccination programs, which could be described as experimental, which proved
disastrous for Aboriginal children. Infant death rates doubled within the year in the Northern Territory. The malnourished Aboriginal children with already
diminished immune systems were killed when vaccinations were so generously given by the government. If any infants managed to survive the
initial vaccination, they were lined up 30 days later for another injection.
So what makes biological weapons so attractive that governments have turned a blind eye on the inhumane suffering and death that is caused by its use?
The Money Savers
A phrase that is often used to describe biological weapons calls it "a poor mans atomic bomb". Another way to describe it is "a rich countries money saver."
The costs to produce 50% casualties per square kilometre in 1969 were:
- Conventional weapons - $2,000
- Nuclear armaments - $800
- Chemical agents - $600
- Biological weapons - $1
However, biological weapons do have their disadvantages. To some, they might be discouraging. To others, a mere inconvenience.
- Very efficient.
- Extremely cheap.
- Continue spreading and killing after initial delivery.
- Extremely unpredictable.
- Long lifespan.
- Socially unacceptable.
Considering that extremists like Saddam Hussein do not really care about
social acceptability, and probably consider the longevity of biological weapons an advantage, there really aren't too many disadvantages to be concerned about.
One of the most efficient of the preferred killers is Anthrax. It causes victims to suffer a rapid onset of breathing difficulties, profuse sweating, shock and death,
all within 36 hours. Spores can survive in soil, water and elsewhere for up to 40 years and are highly resistant to eradication. They can only be killed using steam sterilisation or burning.
Anthrax has been favoured by terrorists since the start of this century due to low production
costs, ease of mass production and ease of weaponisation. In theory, one gram could kill one third of the US population. If an ounce of anthrax was leaked into the air conditioning
system of a domed sports stadium, 80,000 people could be infected within an hour. An attack on the New York Metropolitan area could result in an estimated 600,000 deaths.
Botulinal Toxins (BT) is another cheap and efficient killer that produces fatality rates between 60-70%. The only pain felt is headaches, which progress to
complete physical paralysis while the mind remains alert. Untreated victims eventually go into convulsions and die within 2 to 10 days.
BT can be easily and cheaply manufactured and distributed
through absorption of the skin, lungs, eyes or mucous membranes.
BT is the deadliest of all naturally occurring bio-toxins. One kilogram can kill 50 million people. This is the most favoured biological weapon of Saddam
Hussein. After the Gulf War, UN inspectors discovered 130,000 gallons of BT with the ability to cause the death of 23,587,200,000,000 people, which is about 4000 times the world population!
The biological world of disease certainly provides a clear path to power and wealth. These days, wherever power and money can be obtained, you will
also find large corporations exploiting opportunities. When it comes to biological diseases and pharmaceuticals, there are literally billions at stake.
When enormous sums of money are waved in the faces of corporate executives, the fine line between moral responsibility and major profits can be
easily blurred beyond recognition. When you go into hospital, the number of individual competing companies that your life may depend on for the variety
of medication and services needed is staggering. All it takes is just one of these companies to put their profits ahead of your pain, and suddenly you are at their mercy.
Pharmaceutical corporations are among the most profitable companies in the US. The industry has the highest returns on revenues, meaning they take
enormous markups on their products. They charge whatever the market can bear, which can result in enormous prices if you have a severe or terminal illness.
In 1998, wholesale drug prices in the US soared a record 10.7% in May alone, followed by another 3.2% rise in June.
Hospitals nationwide have recently been rationing adult tetanus shots because of one of the worst drug shortages in years. Such shortages are
increasing to frequent levels that are causing concern among the public.
The shortage can be partly blamed on
Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories. This powerful company decided it would completely stop making the vaccine due to "a business decision". Wyeth also abruptly quit making Wydase. Eye
surgeons are now being forced to stretch remaining supplies as far as possible.
Abbott Laboratories have been dangerously low on intravenous Isuprel used to revive cardiac arrest victims.
Doctors have had to use less successful alternatives because of problems with a
critical ingredient supplier. These few examples highlight the underlying fact that we are at the mercy of large corporations more concerned about making profits than saving human lives.
Over half of the new drugs being put onto the shelves have not been designed to treat new or previously untreated conditions. These "me-too" drugs have
been created using existing recipes with only a slight twist on the ingredients. A minor change is all that is needed for a similar drug to be marketed as "new" so that rival companies can compete for profits.
However, companies are realising that the market of "me-too" drugs is severely limiting. What they are now doing, is getting involved in the exciting
new arena of genetics, where nothing more than a slight alternation or addition to a single gene can create boundless opportunities for exploitation.
Too Close For Comfort
In this new game of genetic modification, we are quickly running out of lives. There have already been numerous close calls and set backs, but the companies will persist. Not because of the lives they might save, but
because money they will make.
The National Corn Growers Association has recently warned their members that stray kernels from last year's crops of genetically engineered StarLink corn could cross-pollinate with other varieties. "Further compounding the
problems of keeping StarLink out of the supply of US corn", said the chairman of the biotech working group.
StarLink corn was never approved for human consumption because of unresolved questions over allergic reactions. Farmers still planted the corn in
defiance to warnings or because they were uninformed. This has resulted in contamination of at least 80 million bushels of last year's harvest.
In February this year, a genetically modified bug could have ended all life on Earth, a scientist has told the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification.
Soil ecologist Elaine Ingham independently tested a bacterium on plants that a regulatory authority failed to conduct yet approved it for field trials. She found that "after seven days, all wheat plants turned into slime." These
plant-killing genetically modified bacteria have the potential to destroy all plant life on Earth.
This narrow escape was a shot across the bow, emphasising the urgency for improved risk assessments and closer monitoring.
While trying to make a contraceptive for mice, scientists from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) inadvertently created a killer mouse virus.
The accident resulted from
genetically modifying an existing smallpox-like virus that resulted in the destruction of critical parts of the mouse immune system.
The Director of CSIRO's Cooperative Research Centre for Biological Control of Pest Animals said, "In this case, we've found that certain changes to a mouse virus can render it
more lethal and harder to immunise against. The best protection against any misuse of this technique was to issue a worldwide warning." "It was a
concern that this same modification could be made to human viruses and this would enhance their virulence or at least strengthen their ability to kill people", he said.
Annabelle Duncan from the CSIRO, who was deputy leader of a UN team that investigated biological warfare agents after the Gulf War, said the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention urgently needed updating. "At the moment
the convention says don't make biological weapons. There's no way of policing it, so if you think somebody is cheating you can't do anything about it."
As more viruses become understood like the deadly E.Coli virus where all 5,000 genes have been successfully mapped, research like that conducted by the Australian CSIRO could be applied to create overwhelming new
There is genetic manipulation being conducted around the world and introduced into our food supplies, vaccines and environment every day. Do
we really understand ourselves enough to be able to ensure our safety from such direct human intervention?
Researchers originally predicted that between 70,000 and 140,000 genes are required to build the human body.
New studies now show as few as
30,000 genes and no more than 40,000 are required. A rival research group has put the total between only 26,000 and 38,000 genes. The human genetic code is
now believed to carry little-more genetic information than mice, and barely twice as much as tiny fruit flies.
This shocking revelation means that biologists can no longer function under the dangerous assumption that a single gene is a blueprint for a single protein that has a
single function. Our genes occupy only 1.1% of our entire chromosomes; the rest have always been considered "junk". However, scientists now believe that this "junk" could
hold important keys to the understanding of our genetic composition.
Till now, pharmaceutical companies have only known 483 profitable "targets" in the human body for drugs. This new research will provide thousands more.
For better or worse, our discoveries are causing a dramatic revolution in understanding the human species. The chance of discovering miracle cures
has increased, but so to have the opportunities for new forms of biological weapons to be created.
Through genetic modification technology, biological warfare as we know it will evolve to unprecedented new levels. The newborn children of the 21st century will have to endure a terror currently unimaginable.