Biotechnology: Biological Weapons/Bioterrorism

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Nowadays we are living in a world where progress is very much appreciated. Technology made our lives a whole lot easier and there are many inventions who had been a great help to us, mankind. However, does all this inventions promote the goods of all mankind? Or are these simply making some of us richer and some poorer, some powerful where some are basically helpless? There are many things to be considered before one decides to support a certain invention or not.

As in most things are, there the pros and cons and there are the moral dilemmas from where one should decide which path s/he ought to follow. The use of biological weapon is one example of the things I had been talking about. Thus, whether we should support its use or not depends on the benefits and the consequences it would wrought on the lives of us, mankind. To further evaluate the use of these weapons one must first have a clear idea of what biological weapon is all about, why is it harmful or useful to human beings and what are the consequences there are in using them.

Biological weapons utilize biological agents such as microorganisms and substances that are biologically or artificially derived. These substances can either kill or incapacitate the target. Biological weapons can exist as either missile heads or bombs making them a good choice as a weapon of mass destruction (www. army-technology. com). Weapons of mass destruction are weapons which has the potential to destroy a substantial number of individuals. Common used agents in biological warfare are: bacteria, viruses and toxins.

A popular bacteria used is Bacillus anthracis or Anthrax. This pathogen ordinarily infects livestock and can affect a human by contact with the infected animal or their products. Other diseases caused by bacteria are cholera, tularemia and plague. (www. emedicine. com). In producing this kind of weapons, the first stage is the selection of the appropriate organism. After this, large scale production and stabilization of the microorganism is done (www. globalsecurity. org). Advances in technology make the production easier and more efficient.

The use of rockets is a common way of delivering biological weapons. A more effective way of spreading the biological agent would be by spraying it by from a light vehicle. This method is also good in avoiding detection. Another possible case is by robotic delivery (www. slic2. wsu. edu:82). Historians have claimed that biological warfare has been used by the Greeks, Romans and Chinese civilizations. Their methods were not as sophisticated as modern weapons but their intention was the same. One example of their method is by poisoning water supplies.

During the 2nd world war there have been speculations that Hitler possessed biological weapons (library. thinkquest. org). Having thus explained what biological weapons are let us now give the reasons why is it that there are groups of people who supports its use and why are there groups of people who, on the other hand, condemns its use. Among the arguments used to support the use of biological weapons are because biological weapons are relatively easy and inexpensive to grow. They are also effective and can be produced in short period of time.

Biological weapons are sometimes called “Poor man’s weapon of mass destruction” due to its relative cheapness and ease of production compared to the nuclear bomb produced by the rich countries (http://www. slic2. wsu. edu:82). Also, a small number of people in a small facility can produce a large quantity of biological agents making the production site difficult to detect. These advantages have prompted terrorists to use biological weapons because their initial concern, especially during production, is the concealment of their project.

It is also very appropriate to terrorists with relatively low budgets because its effectiveness relative to its cheapness. Also, microorganisms that can be used as biological agents along with the equipments and chemicals required are obtainable from a number of suppliers around the world. With this raw material availability combined with the researches and other information about the enhancement of the pathogen that are readily available in books and the internet, gives terrorists all they need to make a potent biological weapon.

Biological weapons attack only the living organisms with little damage to expensive infrastructures. Although the military has very little use of it, this feature is seen as a good advantage of the weapon. Some nations see biological weapons as good a good defense against aggressors. As we can see from the statements above, biological weapons are very practical for some to use. However, the morality in using these things differs from one person to another, from one country to another and so on. Thus, the use of biological weapons may be right for a group of people whence it may be wrong from another group.

Thus, those whose religions allow them to kill their fellow human beings in order to convert others to their religions (justification of holy wars) would most likely allow the use of these weapons. There are also those who would argue that if it is one means which would be effective in protecting their states or countries then its use should not be prohibited. Aside from that there are those who would argue that the use of these things is not really abominable as compared to nuclear weapons because they would claim that the use of biological weapons would be more merciful than other kinds of weapons.

Such are the defense used by promoters of biological weapons. On the other hand, among the many reasons why there are some who abhors the use of biological weapons are that the use of biological weapons by the military is very impractical because of its danger, especially to the public. A main problem would be the difficulty in handling after its release. The biological agent could spread to highly populated areas causing high casualties to civilians. Another disadvantage is the difficulty in protecting the workers in the production, transport and delivery of the weapon.

These disadvantages endanger the lives of the ones that the military wishes to protect. Other disadvantages are concerned with the maintaining quality of the weapon and the effective delivery of the weapon. Based on these disadvantages, the use of biological weapons is unsafe, impractical and difficult to maintain for military purposes. One reason is, unlike the terrorists, the military would not use the weapon readily after production and would need to store the weapon for a relatively long period of time. Also, the production of these weapons would also give rise to unrest in the public.

People would call for their safety because these weapons are unreliable and difficult to control. Those who are against the use of biological weapons argue on the basis that it kills human life thus it is wrong to use these weapons against fellow humans. These weapons are also considered more cruel than others because it is possible that those who were attacked by it could not possibly know what befall them. Besides in a war, some would argue (Jean Paul Sartre for example) that people see other people not as subjects themselves but rather as an object thus what he is doing is that he is objectifying that person.

What happens in wars is that one sees others simply as objects thus their being is being objectify. They are simply being means towards an end which some would argue to be not morally right. This is one of the reasons why the convention on biological toxin weapons in 1972 happened. They made the said convention in order for peace to prevail and to stop other people from taking advantage of the weaker ones. After seeing the pros and cons and the effects a biological weapon could have one could then on decide as to what his/her stand would be.

There are always two sides on an issue and it would be wise to analyze each side before deciding which side is better. In this issue, though there are some justifications in the use of biological weapons I would still remain firm on my stand that such weapons should not be used especially in wiping off human beings. Reference: “Albert Einstein and the atomic bomb” <http://www. doug-long. com> “Biological Warfare Agent Production” < http://www. globalsecurity. org> “Biological Weapons” <http://www. army-technology. com> “Biological Weapons” <http://library. thinkquest. org> “Biological Weapons” <http://en.

wikipedia. org> “Biological Weapons; Malignant Biology” <http://www. slic2. wsu. edu:82> “Biological Weapons Program: History” <http://www. fas. org> “Biological Weapons and Threats” <http://prelas. nuclear. missouri. edu > “CBRNE-Biological Warfare Agents” <http://www. emedicine. com/emerg/topic853. htm> “Chemical warfare” <http://www. britannica. com> “Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction” <http://www. state. gov/t/ac/trt/4718. htm> “Defense Special Weapons Agency” < http://www. acq. osd. mil >

“Iraq: The pros and cons of going to war to disarm a despot” < http://www. aijac. org. au> “The Biological Weapons Convention – An overview “ <http://www. icrc. org> “The military role in countering terrorist use of weapons of mass destruction” <http://www. au. af. mil/au/awc/awcgate/cpc-pubs/dickinson. htm> “The Weapons of Mass Destruction Threat” <http://www. state. gov/t/np/wmd> “Weapons of Mass Destruction” <http://www. thewednesdayreport. com> “Weapons of Mass Destruction” <http://www. sourcewatch. org> “WEAPONS & TERRORISM Biological Weapons and Bioterrorism” <http://www. terrorismfiles. org> “WMD411” <http://www. nti. org>

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