A report out of Cambridge University’s Centre for the Study of Existential Risk warns that world governments have failed to prepare for weapons based on genetic manipulation and pathogens designed to kill only people of a particular race. Biological weapons could use any of a number of disease-producing agents such as viruses, fungi, bacteria, rickettsiae, toxins, or other biological agents and would have to power to target specific DNA, killing certain races of people leaving other swaths of the population unharmed.
“The technology is becoming increasingly sophisticated at ever-cheaper prices, democratizing the ability to harm more quickly and lethally,” the report reads.
“In a particularly bad case, a bio-weapon could be built to target a specific ethnic group based on its genomic profile.”
The researchers conclude that we can’t afford to wait for those weapons to become reality before doing something about them.
But have such weapons already been developed?
Scientists have sounded the alarm for over twenty years that these weapons are now possible due to two developments: one is the Human Genome Project which mapped the entire human genetic blueprint in 2003, the other is gene therapy, a technology that was in its infancy 20 years ago, but is now the basis of the mRNA vaccines now used globally to combat the coronavirus
Prof Malcolm Dando, from the Department of Peace Studies at the UK's Bradford University, said: “The development of molecular medicine based on our new understanding of genomics will allow a vast range of new weaponry to be developed. Among that range could be biological weapons specifically targeted at particular ethnic groups.”
Dr. Vivienne Nathanson, head of the British Medical Association health policy research, said: “It would be a tragedy if in 10 years' time the world faces the reality of genetically engineered and possibly genetically targeted weapons. Getting rid of weapons once they are produced is very difficult; governments may be reluctant to give up weapons that the rest of the world finds unacceptable. Terrorists certainly will be.”
Those warnings are from 1999.
Not only does China lead the world in the number of trials for gene-editing technology, according to a new book by Gordon Chang, they are also collecting DNA from populations all over the world.
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