GENTECH archive


race-specific biological weapons??

I was dubious about an earlier Sunday Times story that "Israel was working
on a biological weapon that would harm Arabs but not Jews"; it seemed to
me that there's no scientific basis for any overall genetic distinction
between the two groups, or indeed between any other two nationalities.
Oh yes !! there are some features that appear more frequently in certain
regions, but that's surely  just a statistical observation. 

 So from what is said below, the report that certain ethnic groups carry
genes that can be picked out for attack contains nothing about what will
happen to the other ethnic groups which cary the identical genes.

So I'm still inclined to think this is a form of hoax.

Sunday Times (London)January 17 1999 BRITAIN

Warning on 'gene warfare' viruses

by Marie Colvin

THE threat posed by gene warfare, in which weapons are developed to kill
only certain racial types, will be officially recognised this week.

A report commissioned by the British Medical Association (BMA) will warn
government ministers that they should take seriously the prospect of
lethal viruses capable of infecting only genes carried by people of
particular ethnic groups.

Such technology could be applied to destroying large groups of civilians,
or for blackmailing governments into co-operation. Last November The
Sunday Times revealed that Israel was working on a biological weapon that
would harm Arabs but not Jews.

The report, which has been written by Malcolm Dando, professor of
international security at Bradford University, a leading expert on biotech
weapons, says more work is needed to identify laboratories where such work
is being carried out.

There is also an urgent need to develop biological tests capable of
detecting whether dangerous new pathogens were present in seemingly
innocent civilian research establishments. At present it would be
difficult to distinguish between technology needed to develop legitimate
vaccines and that needed to produce biological weapons, Dando says.

Most organisations where research on biological weapons could be carried
out are owned by drug companies. Efforts to conduct such investigations
have been blocked by the industry, which fears breaches of secrecy in
developing legitimate treatments.

He has pointed out that biological agents have been used in warfare, and
the deadly threat they pose to civilian populations has been highlighted
by recent events such as the attack using sarin nerve gas on the Tokyo
subway which killed 11 people in 1995.

The countries believed to be working on undeclared biological weapons
programmes include Israel, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, China, North Korea
and Taiwan.

A BMA spokeswoman said: "The report makes the point that a lot of the work
that has been done to develop therapies for the treatment of genetic
disease could be misapplied with malign intent."

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