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The DNA Bomb 144

Posted by michael
from the splicing-and-dicing dept.
Anonymous Coward writes: "While the world is scrambling to nail down the 1972 treaty of biological and chemical weapons, scientists are bracing for GM weapons. Some top experts in the field speculate in an article about "genetic assassination," "lifestyle targeting," "superweeds" to kill GM crops, etc. This goes way beyond just beefing up known pathogens or splicing a couple of them together, even beyond the 1997 fears of an "ethnic bomb." All very over-the-horizon, but fascinating. I'm glad these scientists stuck their necks out to discuss these controversial topics. Especially the step-by-step instructions for making a virus with one person's name on it given by William Nierman, the director of research of the Institute for Genomic Research, and a "lifestyle" weapon conceived by a Harvard geneticist. There's comment from the White House and others, too. At very least a fun read." A little premature reading about this today, but give it a few years... Reading about nuclear weapons in 1940 would have seemed outrageous too.
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The DNA Bomb

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    As the risk rises in one asset base, invest in other unrelated investments to lower the overall level of risk. This is why me need to maintain a population in space - off the earth - a fully self supporting and growing ecosphere. Move out with everything, not just the fun animals like Lions & Tigers, don't be an idiot and forget the plants and bugs too. get off my f**ing cloud - 47
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I have to admit i havent read the article, but "fun" about weapons seems a bit macabre to me.
    Platy
  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...postulated a "race-specific" weapon (although a device rather than a chemical) for doing away with the "pan-asians". Check out Sixth Column , a.k.a. The Day After Tomorrow . More than slightly xenophobic, but consider when it was written. (My recollection of the book version of the 1941 serial, which was revised, expanded, and published in 1949.)

  • by Anonymous Coward
    "The Army of God Manifesto, gospel to anti-abortion extremists, allows chemical and biological weapons in the crusade. Now think of a virus or bacterial spore that attacks in the presence of RU-486."

    RU-486 usually kills the unborn child, after ten days of the mother waiting around for the miscarriage. It is also dangerous to the mother.

    What nightmare scenario is VV imagining?

    This One? [abortionfacts.com]
    "In July of 1996, an FDA advisory panel recommended approval of RU-486 even though the American clinical trials were still not complete. Most shocking of all, this recommendation was made despite the unimpeachable testimony of Dr. Mark Louviere, a physician who treated a woman for a life-threatening hemorrhage two weeks after the RU-486 was administered. The woman had lost one-half to two-thirds of her blood. But what really bothered Dr. Louviere (but not the committee, apparently) was even though he reported the complication to the Planned Parenthood clinic which administered the experimental drug, a representative of the same Planned Parenthood clinic subsequently told the media that there had been "no complications among the 238 women" they aborted in this manner. "

    What could possibly be done to make RU-486 more dangerous than it already is? Export it to poor brown people in third world countries.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    As long as they make a bomb which kills off people who talk on their cellphone while driving - I'm OK with it.

    ...except that those people usually take care of themselves.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    My friends, the most bestest show of all time, STTNG, contemplated such weapons! Those damn research universities need to fire their "professors," and hire some ST writers.
  • Reading about nuclear weapons in 1940 would have seemed outrageous too.

    Apparently, Michael slept through his history classes because research on the Atom bomb (as it was called then) started before [d.kth.se] 1940.

    On August 2nd 1939, just before the beginning of World War II, Albert Einstein wrote to then President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Einstein and several other scientists told Roosevelt of efforts in Nazi Germany to purify U-235 with which might in turn be used to build an atomic bomb. It was shortly thereafter that the United States Government began the serious undertaking known only then as the Manhattan Project. Simply put, the Manhattan Project was committed to expedient research and production that would produce a viable atomic bomb.

    --
    "In the land of the brave and the free, we defend our freedom with the GNU GPL."
  • By Frank Herbert, about a genetic bomb that kills only women. And he wrote it in 1982! (17 years ago...I guess if he got a patent on it, it wouldn't be valid anymore) ;)
  • Or how eating meat in europe was a bad idea for a few months post-Chernobyl

    It still is, isn't it?

    mad cow, hoof-n-mouth...


  • Actually look at this from a non-humor type standpoint. If you genetically modify cannabis, you've got a fantastic paper supply, some of the strongest twine available, and a good supply of oils, but no THC. If they don't want people smoking weed, fine. But let's put such an amazing plant to good use. It's been proven that this is possible, THC production can be pushed up and down with the DNA. I think something like this would be good for industry. No?

    Digitalunity strikes again.
  • ...it's all the ones marked "occupant" that I'm worried about.

    not only is the universe stranger than you imagine,
    it's stranger than you are capable of imagining

  • What other Ford model should stock cars be based on? It's their main sedan, and that's what nascar's used forever.

    If rusty drives one, it's good enough for me. :)

    -Chris

    ...More Powerful than Otto Preminger...
  • Forget grapes. Version 2.0 should grow Twinkies as its fruit. Imagine acres and acres of free weed and Twinkies. Mmmmm....

    -B
  • You read "Rainbow Six", didn't you?
  • The first atomic explosion was in June, 1945, after Germany had surrendered. If they had existed in 1944, I suspect the "Iron Curtain" would never have existed.
  • Can't you see? There's a reason why "security by obscurity" is hated in some applications. It's because the thing they're hiding is very simple to follow through with--if one person figures it out, then it can be done easily by enough people to make a difference.

    Consider nuclear bombs: if complete information was published, there would be enough parties capable of following through to make a BIG difference.

    However, DNA bombing is NOT one of these subjects. The work and expertise involved is not enough to warrant concern as of yet.

    Informative: 4 ? Puhleeze. Interesting, maybe, but definitely not worth 3.
  • Nuclear war is only less dangerous if you think of it as 1 bomb taking out a town as opposed to the reality of the situation: 1 Sub in our ballistic missle fleet has over 200 independant warheads. (aren't MIRV's a bitch ?). How many subs do we have ? How many silos do we have ? How many things do we have that the public doesn't even know about ?

    According to this article [sciam.com] in Scientific American Magazine [sciam.com], "In sum, the two nuclear superpowers remain ready to fire a total of more than 5,000 nuclear weapons at each other within half an hour." The other numbers in the article add up to somewhat more than this though.

    Btw, you can find a nice abandoned missle silo tour [triggur.org] at this site [triggur.org].

    Acutally, if the attack mechanism is something thats "alive" or acts alive, then it can be killed or thwarted (eventually, and with enough research). While 95% of earths population might rot and spontaneously explode, there'd probably be enough people randomly unaffected to survive and figure out a "cure" or an antigen.

    Perhaps, perhaps not. Some natural diseases like rabies kill higher percentages of some species infected. But if something kills even much less than 95% of humans at random, there would likely be a total collapse of civilization. Too many essential services and technologies would be lost. Not only the GM weapon, but natural diseases would become deadly as medicine regressed, aided by famine and civil violence.

    On the other hand, short of a metric assload of lead sheilding, theres nothing you can do about a neutron bomb. You're just fucked if you happen to be nearby.

    True. But enhanced neutron radiation weapons only kill over a small area. Inverse-square law assures isn't enough neutron flux at greater distances.

    A fun excercize if we were allowed to know the numbers involved would be "how many nukes do we have per square mile of 1% or lower survivability fallout levels".

    Good question. Probably an order of magnitude or two more than the number that exists. The Chernobyl explosion released an immensely larger amount than would be formed by a missle-mountable nuclear weapon, and few larger bombs exist. Cancer would be more common, but again most deaths would be caused by natural disease and other factors related to anarchy.
  • "I want a tailored germ that will only kill my hated identical twin!"
  • Reading about nuclear weapons in 1940 would have seemed outrageous too.

    Am I the only one how still think nuclear weapon are outageous?

  • That would definately help fight the munchies:)
  • *shrug*

    For a weapon, you wouldn't necessarily need to understand everything about cellular mechanics -- just enough to be able to identify, target, and irreparably damage.
  • Er...

    a) You'd need to figure out protein folding given an amino acid chain and the cellular environment. I'm under the impression that this is a non-trivial problem.

    b) You'd need to figure out where to *put* the DNA strand, given a retrovirus that could deliver it. A fair part of DNA is thought to be inactive (introns).

    c) Ultimately, you need to be able to go from "This is my objective" to "This is the protein that does this", could be bloody hard depending on the vagueness of your objective.
  • If a virus killed its host quickly, and in such a manner that it was obvious that biohazard folks should handle it; or it was very difficult to spread, then it might not have a chance to spread beyond the intended victim and the mutation rate is less of a concern.
  • You're very right. I am sorry for answering ignorance with misinformation.

    I would still like to see failsafes built into GM products released into the environment. Maybe that would quiet its worst critics.
  • This is your metamoderator. This is your metamoderator on drugs. Flamebait??? No ... Mangu's comment is a good comment. Think before you click.

    Unless of course the moderation itself was flamebait, in which case the metamoderator succeeded. :)
  • One other comment to mangu though, I noticed you mention similarity of proteins. The prion that causes BSE spreads exactly because the scenario you mention is, unfortunately, not true.

    Evolution is lazy. There is an economy of simplicity -- if it works it tends to not change. That's why we and yeast are still remarkably similar on the molecular level.

    When you throw a "different" folded protein into the mix you get cross-species diseases like Scrapie and BSE, specifically because most of the proteins used for similar purposes by living organisms are identical. On the molecular level the wheel is seldom reinvented. The hemoglobin used by an earthworm is the virtually the same hemoglobin used by a lemur used by a human used by a parakeet.
  • Yes lipids and proteins are natural, but certain proteins do not occur within certain species, so for example a feline rhinovirus with an altered protein coat designed to infect human cells and insert the gene for, say, botilinus toxin would have no natural human defense, because such a thing had never before occured.

    The human species did not evolve being infected by feline rhinoviruses, the feline rhinovirus infecting a human is not a natural occurance, and the human organism has no tolerance for large quantities of botulinus toxin being pumped into the body. The human host dies from a supercold against which he or she has no natural defense.

    This is what I mean by an unnatural disease.

    Remember that the mortality rate among some indigenous American people when confronted by common Old World diseases was also 100%, and these were not "new" diseases to the species.
  • I agree with fleener. If a disease is a un-natural, it stands to reason that the only defense against it will also be un-natural. There are areas in any genome/proteome that can be targeted that would easily cause 100% mortality in the target species.

    Barring the luck of having a completely isolated pocket of population, assuming such a disease is engineered to be easily transmissable I can foresee something being created that has a 100% mortality rate.
  • Kill the people!

    Where is the logic? Hopefully the superweeds are edible, or should everyone starve to placate the ELF?

    Re: lifestyle diseases -- yes A.I.D.S. indeed attacks impoverished people, promiscuous people, and IV drug users. If you think it's a disease that somehow judiciously infects deviants, the majority of cases of AIDS worldwide occurs among heterosexuals. Shame on all of them. :>

    Way back when A.I.D.S. was called G.R.I.D. (Gay Related Immune Deficiency) it was obvious that the hemophiliacs and transplant patients who were dying kinda missed out on the G.R. part.

    New or crossover organisms thrive when they are able to successfully exploit available niches with no predation or controls. Disease organisms profit from the same mechanism that makes the zebra mussel the scourge of the American Great Lakes, and the American south a big blanket of kudzu.

    Maybe kudzu and its effect on native species is something those who promote the release of any GM crop/weed should keep in mind. Perhaps when we engineer a new plant we should also have in the wings an effective control to prevent a designer SuperWheat(tm) from becoming the new American wild grass.
  • Sharing dirty needles with your friends is certainly a lifestyle trait, don't you think?


    --

  • remember the evil already done [nytimes.com] by that stinking fucking stupid xbox-loving [xbox.com] butt-breath little dog... "YUM" my ass

  • We'll be trying to cure baldness and we may inadvertently sterilize the whole human race.

    Now that would be a good start [vhemt.org].

    ______________

  • Targets specific lifestyles... Hmm, microsoft, email spamming... hmm

    I love U!
  • How about a "lifestyle" pathogen that only kills people who work on genetic modification experiments?
  • I know that there was a Star Trek episode that brought this issue up.
  • One of Brian Stableford's novels, Architects of Emortality, has a murder committed using a bunch of genetically modified flowers which are tailored to kill a specific victim through (I think) the pollen. The novels are full of different ways genetic modification and nanotech could be used, including plagues and adding to longevity.
  • Well, it can be a weapon selectively killing people. Anybody remembers Arthur C. Clarke's Rama series? The spiders (octopods?) used a genetic weapon which kills only older people (over 40) to beat the humans while not causing a genocide. When they are objectioned because of ethics, their response was something like "every kind of war is unethical, but once you are forced to war, the method does not matter".
  • Who's watching? You mean nonconspiracy stuff, right? AFAIK, there isn't anyone. There are specific task forces set up to work with the Iraqis, and there used to be and may still exist a project to fund Russian scientists to work with American scientists rather than defect to the middle east (Hey, how'd this gigantic bowl for making anthrax wind up out here in the Iraqi desert?) Beyond that, I don't know.

    I don't have any websites about this, all my references are paper journals. New Scientist had a lot of articles on these topics. If you're really serious about going and looking up the articles, I'll find my references and type them in.
  • In The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes, he comments that the German Nuclear scientists still in Nazi Germany knew that the Americans and Brits were working on Atomic devices of some sort because all the papers that used to be in the scientific journals stopped showing up and previously published scientists stop publishing.
  • And you don't even begin to talk about viruses and prions.

    Prions especially frighten me. There doesn't appear to be any bodily mechanism for combating them.

    They also kind of appeal to my sense of irony. Here we humans are, thinking were about the most advanced damn organism to ever exist... and we could be easily wiped out by the most primitive quasi-lifeform that exists.

    --
  • or worse, has a field that cannot be reused for some time.


    Let's not bring Monsanto into this.

    (That was a snide reference to the recent Canadian court decision.)


    Caution: Now approaching the (technological) singularity.
  • Projecting the future has gotten a lot more difficult in the last few years. This is the continuation of a trend that may have started with writing.

    The problem is, if you take one vector, say biological modification of DNA to create weapons, and project it forwards, you get one scenario. If you take another, say the projection of Moore's law forward to predict compute capacities, you get another scenario. And there are thousands (how many?) of the projections that need to be run and reconciled simultaneously. As the rate of change increases, the creation of new paths forwards also increases. And they are densely interconnected (e.g., the DNA manipulation would not have been possible without the increase in computation).

    Nobody can make a reasonable, much less true, projection for several years. Nobody. We have to learn to live with it. This decrease in foreseability has been increasing. The rate of it's increase seems to be increasing. This is the essence of the Technological Singularity.

    Try to imagine what a Schwartzhild Radius looks like as you approach it. Perhaps it's difficult to know which side of the barrier you are on. This is only an analogy, so it shouldn't be pushed too far, but don't trust any long term projection. And 5 years now qualifies as long term.

    I expect all of the things projected to become possible, but by the time that they do, they may not matter. If direct neural connection to the computer becomes possible (one of the vectors that is being pushed forwards), we may all decide to move into our computers (partially or completely), and the death of the body may be only an inconvenience. What would be devastating is a computer crash with bad backups. Oops! Another kind of "bug" is evolving.

    But if we move into a computer, will we still have the same drives and emotions? Or will they be but interesting subroutines, that can be debugged, de-prioritized, etc.?

    We can't know.


    Caution: Now approaching the (technological) singularity.
  • It's much worse than that.

    The ideal weapon would spread more easily than a cold, but have no particular symptoms or effect except on it's choosen target. That makes it easy to deliver.

    Unfortunately, that means that it's impossible to easily corral the critters afterwards. They'll just keep spreading. And they will mutate as they go.

    Of course, they'll usually be harmless...


    Caution: Now approaching the (technological) singularity.
  • Well, there are certain parts of the DNA that have been conserved since ... well, we share those parts with the bacteria. Perhaps an artifical disease could be designed that would attack those? Bingo. Clean planet.

    I can't think that anyone would want to do precisely that, but it's a possibility. (Probably. Perhaps there's only one way to do some things.)

    However, there are certain features of DNA that all humans share. I don't think anyone even knows exactly how we differ from Chimps and Gorillas, so they might get caught along with us. But just as antibiotics can be designed to target particular organisims (I've heard reports of work aimed directly at staph aureaus [spelling?]), so there could be organisms aimed directly at H.Sap.

    The problem is a question of will, effort, and time more than anything else. But it specialized weapons are targeted at a sub-population of people (say, a tailored e-coli), it is quite easy to believe that the artificial limitations placed on them might mutate. And e-coli can live in anyone. Now it might not be advantageous to e-coli for it to kill its host, but that might become ... is academic the right word if there aren't any schools?

    Caution: Now approaching the (technological) singularity.
  • /.
    I shall dismember your post. Observe:

    I have always believed that the government needs the most advanced weapons it can get.

    Which government? Just the Third Reich, or any old collection of yahoos that believes they can morally perform acts immoral for individuals to perform? Bush's government? Andy Jackson's?

    It seems to me you have already given up your individuality, and spit upon the Declaration of Independence, in your first sentence.

    Violence (ie. war) will never go away, so we should be as efficient at it as possible.

    Pedophilia will never go away, but I don't wish to become efficient at it. Evil religions [godhatesfags.com] will probably never go away either, unfortunately.

    (Just one second - doning flame retardent clothing).

    It goes well with the troling rig.

    If this can allow the government to wipe out an opposing army and no one else, great lets do it.

    Yay! And since nobody's going to come invade us, we can go to their countries and play! US homeowners have enough munitions to repel any foreign invader, even if we don't count ESR, so we'll have to send our bugs abroad.

    The problem comes into play when you cannot ensure that only your target will be affected, therefore, there is a very real possiblity of harming your own forces. This is not a good thing.

    Hmm, nothing to criticize here but the grammar. Oh, wait, I guess I can point out that enemy civilians and third parties just got ignored.

    As soon as the scientest have incontrovertable proof that they can target an arbitrary inidividual or group of individuals, I say do it.

    Did anyone else hear a volunteer step forward?

    I'd like to see incontrovertable proof that incontrovertable proof can exist. Kurt Godel might've liked to see it too. (Look it up.)

    We will save alot of american (british, austrailian take your pick of the allies) lives by employing this technology.

    I pick Canadians, they always get a bum rap. Of course we may have to write off those dirty immigrants (you know, those supposed "freedom seeking refugees" from non-allied countries) trying to sneak through the war zones.

    A lot of the technophobes are going to have a problem with this, as well as those who tend to believe in the inherent goodness of man.

    Not to mention people who think carefully.

    but when the start bringing up the inherent goodness ploy I always point out, as a really good, well reasoned response Hienlens book Starship Troopers (The book, not that pitiful excuse for a movie).

    OK, you got me on that one. The movie really was pitiful. The Dean was rolling over in his grave.

    But I can argue that war is a good, effective, desirable means of population control when fought strictly with knives, spears, swords, and axes. The problem with warfare is the environmental damage of modern weapons... still, people will create immoral weapons, and people will use them. Do you still think I believe in the inherent goodness of man, that goodness you seem ready to assign to the government?

    I'm not a Luddite by any means, but c'mon, don't kid yourself that all progress is inherently good.

    --Charlie
  • A herbicide loaded with dioxin, you mean.
    Nasty shit.
  • by KFury (19522)
    Wasn't this a Star Trek episode [startrek.com] in 1989? Five years from now NASA will be warning us about the Borg [microsoft.com].

    Kevin Fox
    --
  • Back in 1976 Isaac Asmiov wrote a short story called 'The Winnowing' that basically talked about eliminating overpopulation by infecting food to starving nations with a virus that targetted only a certain percentage with a DNA match (so they couldn't tell that it was the food that was killing them).

    Of course Asimov wrote about 10,000 stories, so one or two of them was bound to hit the mark...
  • This is closer to reality than you think. I wrote a fact-based novel about this in 1996, <i>SlateWiper</i> (http://www.slatewiper.com), in which a gene weapon could be quickly engineered to target specific ethnic groups and even micro-populations of people in small areas who have intermarried and thus share some of the repeat marker genes ... Slatewiper was recently bought by St. Martins Press and optioned for a movie by Carlsbad Pictures ... I am re-writing to update things given the past five years of genome and proteome research ... BTW, preventing a global disaster depends on the integrity of a dossier of high-ranking people compiled by the hero who has salted the data all over the web, encoded in .jpg files on porn sites and sex newsgroups... arrayed against him is a virus 'bot that spiders the web, looking for digital profiles of the dossier and deleting the files where it finds them.
  • So I post relevant information and I'm a conspiracy theorist? I wonder how that got tossed into the loop? FYI I recently watched a program on PBS about the effects of war on the environment about two weeks ago. I guess the guys who produced it must be conspirators as well.

    If you take a quick look at the effects of war you would know that most countries break the Geneva convention with their weapons via way of the chemicals used to create the weapons, the aftereffects of explosions, and the overall aftereffects of simple things like residue created from smoke, intermixing with other toxins such as carbon monoxide, etc., to form other forms of deadly toxins that kill quite similar to this.

    So excuse me for opening up someone's eyes with factual based information. Next time I'll dig really deep into bogus information like crop circle theories to post some unsubstantied bullshit information, this way next time you could _really_ call me a conspiracy theorist. Oh sure I see your point now, I hijacked the packets used by the New York Times to create that article, then using CIA MKUltra [intellnet.org] techniques, I implanted the thoughts of those who commented on the excerpts from what I posted, into their brains via methods only a conspirator would know.

    You caught me red handed
  • Given that Radiation stays in one place, more or less,

    What?! Seasonal winds and jetstreams have a HUGE impact on the spread of nuclear fallout. Did you know that people in Sweden were affected by the fallout from Chernobyl? So, yes, if "every nation within several hundred miles" is acceptable collateral damage, then we can heave megaton nukes around without issue.

    ---

  • As someone else pointed out, "The White House official says she'd like to see scientists police themselves better regarding what they publish and with whom they share data."

    The government's desire for this to be kept under wraps is twofold, and both reasons show the standard naivite that all government weapon technology discussions show. One, other countries shouldn't get the idea because it could be used against us. Two, we might find it to be a very effective weapon against other countries.

    First, any sufficiently advanced army will definitely read the enemy's newspapers and put students in their schools to get a pulse on the enemy's weapon ideas. They don't need details, just the abstracts. We do it to them, they do it to us.

    Second, developing a new class of weapon is a step in the arms race which is always reciprocal. When we develop Weapon A, we better design Defense A to go with it, because someone's going to deliver Weapon A to our enemy to use against us. Any undefendable weapon is a step towards Mutual Assured Destruction, just as we have faced with nukes and are tasting with cyber-warfare.

    Our government isn't all naive, and they know these arguments well. It's not enough to stop the trend, though; new weapons are developed all the time, and defenses are shortchanged because it's not an effective use of those funds. In cases like nuclear detonation and super-infections, defenses are impossible or severely limited, yet the weapon still fits the political needs for detente or intimidation. The weapons are still developed, and their eventual use against their creators is nearly inevitable.

  • "The Army of God Manifesto, gospel to anti-abortion extremists, allows chemical and biological weapons in the crusade. Now think of a virus or bacterial spore that attacks in the presence of RU-486."

    Ladies and Gentlemen, the Eleventh Commandment: Thou shalt kill the non-believers.

    RU-486 usually kills the unborn child, [normally known as a fetus] after ten days of the mother waiting around for the miscarriage.

    How dare she just wait around. She should poke around in there with an old coathanger. Then she should get off her ass and get me a beer.

    It is also dangerous to the mother.

    Although much less dangerous than the aforementioned coathanger.

    "In July of 1996, an FDA advisory panel recommended approval of RU-486 even though the American clinical trials were still not complete.

    Maybe they knew it would take over 4 years to get through all the political BS.

    Most shocking of all, this recommendation was made despite the unimpeachable testimony of Dr. Mark Louviere,

    Is that similar to the unimpeachable Bill Clinton?

    But what really bothered Dr. Louviere (but not the committee, apparently) was even though he reported the complication to the Planned Parenthood clinic which administered the experimental drug, a representative of the same Planned Parenthood clinic subsequently told the media that there had been "no complications among the 238 women" they aborted in this manner. "

    Well, certainly those people at Abortion"facts".com wouldn't lie to the media, would they?

    Guess what. Almost every drug ever approved cause some kind of complications among a small percentage of the trial patients. Looks like less than 0.5% in just one clinical trial. Not bad, actually.

    RU-486 has been in use over much of the world for quite some time now. Is this particular anecdote the only evidence of problems you can come up with?

    At least I didn't log out, post anonymously, then log on later and mod myself up.


    --

  • the fermi "reactor" was hardly a reactor.. he called it an "atomic pile". It was little more than a stack of radioisotype, with a few hand operated control rods. It was built under the bleachers at the squash courts at chicago uni, iirc.

    You're right though. The bomb came later, in
    44. June or July of 44, near Alamagordo NM.
    It was suspended from a steel tower and detonated above ground.

    I want to say it was June 22nd but I haven't read about it in quite a long time.

    The two wartime nukes were August 6 and 9th, respectively, in 1945.

  • Heh.

    Did you forget about fallout ? Or how eating meat in europe was a bad idea for a few months post-Chernobyl ?

    I make no argument with you about the ramifactions of genetic or even viral warfare - i've read "The Stand" :)

    I just take issue with discounting the effects of radioactive fallout - especially to the extent that would be produced in an actual warfare.

    There have been less than 10 (known) large-scale radioactive releases near populated areas in history.

    Nuclear war is only less dangerous if you think of it as 1 bomb taking out a town as opposed to the reality of the situation: 1 Sub in our ballistic missle fleet has over 200 independant warheads. (aren't MIRV's a bitch ?). How many subs do we have ? How many silos do we have ? How many things do we have that the public doesn't even know about ?

    Acutally, if the attack mechanism is something thats "alive" or acts alive, then it can be killed or thwarted (eventually, and with enough research). While 95% of earths population might rot and spontaneously explode, there'd probably be enough people randomly unaffected to survive and figure out a "cure" or an antigen.

    On the other hand, short of a metric assload of lead sheilding, theres nothing you can do about a neutron bomb. You're just fucked if you happen to be nearby.

    A fun excercize if we were allowed to know the numbers involved would be "how many nukes do we have per square mile of 1% or lower survivability fallout levels".
  • "But we're only as good as our intelligence. That's something we can never forget, and in this case our intelligence has always been lacking. If it were perfect, we'd never have outbreaks of disease or terrorism."

    I'd argue that this has not so much to do with perfect intelligence, as it has with conformity OR compassion, tolerance and always striving for the common good when you have diversity. "Perfect intelligence" would here mean like an ant-colony, but we're not an ant colony! Our diversity is what makes it a challenge to be human in the first place. Take that away, and we're not humans any longer. The freedom to commit a crime or mistake, is more valuable than you think.

    - Steeltoe
  • Just about any General Motors SVU, I'd guess...



    -J
  • Acts of the APostles, about evil phamaceutical companies and Gulf War Syndrome. . .

    Sorry, couldn't resist. This whole bio-digital-weapons nexus *is* in fact the actual subject of my nanoscopicly famous novel, so I am more or less on topic . . .

    yr frn,

  • Wouldn't it be nice if the easy answer was "quit pissing people off?" Too bad it doesn't work that way.

    Some citations:

    Rogers, Paul, Simon Whitby, and Malcolm Dando. Biological Warfare Against Crops. Scientific American, June 1999, pgs 70-75.

    Just found these two webpages, might help: The second one might be more what you're looking for.
    http://www.brad.ac.uk/acad/sbtwc/
    http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~hsp/

    Kleinter, Kurt. Operation Eradicate. New Scientist, Sept 11, 1999. pp 20-21.

    Interesting article about braindrain from Russia:
    Tucker, Jonathan B. Bioweapons from Russia: Stemming the Flow. Issues in Science and Technology, Spring 1999. pp34-38.

    Interesting article about Iraq, commentary:
    Seelos, Christian. Lessons from Iraq on Bioweapons. Nature, 398:187-188. March 18, 1999.

    The AMA and the CDC have had a passing (?) interest in this topic. I ran into a person who claimed he'd worked on Biol. War projects in the CIA but I can't vouch for his credentials.

    To answer the second question, I think jargon is what protects us now. How many people can really understand "Anthrax Lethal Factor Cleaves the N-Terminus of MAPKKs and Induces Tyrosine/Threonine Phosphorylation of MAPKs in Cultured Macrophages" without devoting too much time to it? That's just the *title* of a paper published in Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications in 1998. Admittedly, you don't really need to know *how* anthrax works to use it. At the same time, you can use any introductory microbiology textbook to learn the basics of microbiological technique but my introductory textbooks certainly haven't gone out of their way to tell me how to use my powers for evil. It's possible there's something ala the anarchist's cookbook running around, but I don't know. In short, it would take a long dedication of time to figure out how to do this, the way things currently stand. On the other hand, high school students can have a lot of time.

    Third question: disclaimer: I'm only a graduate student, but I identify as a scientist. I don't think we can ask scientists to anticipate all the future ramifications of their work. Wasn't Einstein pretty upset about his work being used as a weapon? Where do we draw the line? I'm sure Pasteur wasn't thinking "biological weapons!" when he isolated the causative agent of anthrax over a hundred years ago. Who can predict how some things can be used as a weapon? It's kind of like suing someone for making a hammer without a label reading "Warning! May cause bruises and trauma if beat on the head!". It would be nice if some international organization would take responsibility for this, but the 1972 BWTC that was supposed to halt biol. weapon research was signed and immediately violated by just about everyone, as near as I can tell - including the US. Also, please don't forget that currently, it's almost impossible to concoct diabolic biologic agents of evil de novo. You need a source. Think about smallpox - we quit vaccinating people for that before I was born. If someone got their hands on smallpox, they could wipe out everyone in their mid-20s or younger. IN THEORY there are only two vials of smallpox in the entire world, one in the CDC and one somewhere in russia. Good luck trying to get your hands on them.

    Oh, and one more thought - this has been discussed on /. elsewhere, but currently to be successful in academics, you are almost required to publish constantly. Asking people not to publish their information would be the same as saying "don't do this research" and there are good reasons to do the research or it wouldn't get funded. Also, just becuase we're not doing the research doesn't mean Big Enemey Of The Day isn't doing research either (that's the logic we violated the BWTC under!)

  • Some techniques are already very cheap. If you merely want your own strain of anthrax, I think it could be done with some potatoes, a stove, a pot, some water, a flame, a needle, and a good microbiology textbook. Oh, and a source of anthrax. At the same time, I could isolate my own weak antibiotics using the same tools, but instead of a dead cow, I could use dirt for the source.

    I think depending on what type of genetics you're trying to do, cost would not be so prohibitive. There are ways around things. TAQ polymerase is pretty important for PCR (a quick way to amplify particular genes) but TAQ polymerase is mostly expensive becuase someone patented it. I don't have to buy an expensive gel electrophoresis machine if i know basic electronics.

    As for crop targeting - When we first started poking around in Iraq's biological weapons program in the early 90's, we found they'd been doing research on wheat smut, a fungus to target wheat in Iran. The Germans in WWII reportedly had a beetle ready to deploy to hit British potato crops, but surrendered before the first spring they would have used it. Russia had an extensive crop targeting program before they collapsed. Some other poster already mentioned Columbia's pissiness at us and the same fungus mentioned in that post is the same fungus people want to (possibly have obtained permission to?) test in Montana on hemp ... which borders parts of Canada which grow nonTHC hemp... Poppies have been targetted, as well...the only major difference is that as near as I can tell (and I have done much research on this, for school), artificial genetic manipulation has not been done. So far people seem to be relying on the timehonored methods of crossbreeding to develop better strains.

    Finally, yes, things can backfire if you don't target well. I don't know a lot about Iraq, but I get the impression that the wheat smut was selected becuase Iran has lots of wheat and Iraq doesn't. This gets back to the lifestyle targetting mentioned before. Pick something your neighbor has but you don't. Pick a weapon that doens't tend to jump species. Modify the fsck out of 'em. Right now, we have bacteria that won't survive out of the lab becuase they need something, a nutrient perhaps, that isn't easily found in nature. It's the same kind of thinking.

    Finally, I think the only reason biological warfare isn't *more* common is becuase most people don't realize how easy biology is.

    Please forgive my longwindedness, I just gave a talk on this topic less than a week ago.
  • Wonder why aren't we all dead from [insert deadly virus here]? Because all living systems have defense systems. There's nothing magic about artificial viruses, or bacteria, or weeds; they are all built of proteins, lipids, etc. Maybe an artificial virus could be built as deadly as rabies, as contagious as the common cold, as incurable as HIV, but there would still be some people immune to it.

    This article is the same "Boo! Look! A Genetically Modified being!" sort that the media is publishing now that the Cold War is over and we don't need to feel scared about The Bomb anymore.

  • Off-topic and nitpicking, but the first nuclear weapon test was done in July 1945. They wouldn't wait a whole year to use those bombs in wartime.

    And the first reactor was a true reactor, that is, it was a device to produce nuclear reactions. It had a crazy sort of safety device: a bunch of students held jars of neutron absorbing substances over the reactor. If the experiment went out of control producing much more radiation than expected, the students would be killed by the radiation, and the jars would drop over the reactor, quenching the reaction.

  • From the story:

    More realistic, argues Dr. George M. Church, director of the Lipper Center, would be a pathogen that targeted people with shared lifestyle traits.

    *cough*AIDS*cough*

    question: is control controlled by its need to control?
    answer: yes
  • There is one mechanism that comes to mind to target a specific individual DNA sequence. It doesn't rely on functional differences between individuals, just genetic differences. Make a retrovirus that can integrate itself into the human genome (not an uncommon thing for viruses to do), but make the integration site tagged to the individual you want to target. Then make the virulent part of the virus (the warhead) coupled to genomic integration, so that integration triggers virulence.

    Another way to accomplish the same thing might be to have a toxin that is activated upon DNA binding, but only to specific sequences. You can then choose the binding sequence to the particular target you're aiming for.

    All of this is hard, but probably not impossible. However, you have to wonder if it wouldn't be just easier to use a strike with one of those fancy GPS guided munitions the US has. It's not clear to me why to go to all this trouble to kill a single person when there are probably easier ways to do it.

    On the other hand, developing designer pathogens against a specific crop seems both easy and likely. People have already proposed it for use in the war against drugs, as a previous poster pointed out.



  • Actually, Ebola isn't that infective if common preventative measures are taken. How do you think the health workers who finally make it to infected areas survive and eliminate the outbreak? The problem is simply that the areas Ebola exists in are the same ones lacking in appropriate medical experience and understanding or ability. Check what the CDC [cdc.gov] has to say about it.

    Once again, this is one of those science fiction articles based on someone with a minimum of knowledge in the field and a vivid imagination. Pipe dream doesn't even begin to describe what is proposed in the article. Having a genome != knowing biological effects, relevance or disruptability. If DNA codons are the letters of life, the genome is simply a list of all the words used. Because I have a copy of webster's on my desk does not mean I have a copy of every book published. Ugh.

    People do become immune to flu; it didn't help
    Sure it did. The epidemic ended and we are still here.

    -Ted

  • I think that's what it was called. It was about a virus that only killed... well, you should read the book. Hint: it wasn't white people, as you might expect from the title. Excellent writing, not set in the Dune universe. I highly recommend it.

    Bryguy

  • The question is, will it still work if they change their name?
  • "Others argue the Earth's crisis is severe enough that they'll battle corporate America by any means necessary. "Ethics, schmethics," writes New York-based techno-artist and researcher Natalie Jeremijenko, who develops biotech hobbyist kits and supports Bunting's efforts with Irational.org. "There is not an 'ethics' that is separate from the motivation for doing something in the first place and the accountability or responsibility one feels for it. "

    Biotech Hobbyist Kits?!! WTF?! How do you cram all the necessary tools, viral samples, cultures, microscopes, etc... into a KIT?

    Boy, I sure hope those don't fall into the hands of the local Aryan Nation/Nation of Islam chapter. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. In this case, I think it would be the *most* dangerous thing...
  • I think one of the more fundamental problems is that no matter how well we "map" our DNA, we still have very little idea exactly how it does what it does. There are huge gaps in what we think we know. Why do cells differentiate? We still don't know. So, yeah, you could try to make a "DNA bomb", but I doubt that it'll work as expected.

  • yeah, but there are by far more effective and simpler ways to do that then to modify the DNA... you just nuke the DNA with cross-linkers - instant cell death. Works on cancer, works on healthy cells, too. And the compounds have been around for quite a while. Ever hear of mustard gas? That little nasty is one of the basis for the whole antineoplastic field.

  • Thanks for the info. Do you (or anybody) have good links to websites, government or otherwise regarding this stuff. Any info on who is watching over the spread of biological technology would be helpful.

    Ten or twenty years ago I would not be so worried. Now with the global internet, knowledge is bound to skyrocket. Anytime a new communication technology is introduced that multiplies interactions between peoples things start moving really fast. And with knowledge comes all the dangers associated with it. The problem is that, this time around, the lives of millions if not billions of people may be at stake. Haysoos Martinez! I need to get off this planet!

    In a world where everybody hates everybody, maybe it's better to be ignorant. But then again, I keep holding on to the wisdom that knowledge is better than ignorance in the end. I hope I'm right.
  • Oh, and one more thought - this has been discussed on /. elsewhere, but currently to be successful in academics, you are almost required to publish constantly. Asking people not to publish their information would be the same as saying "don't do this research" and there are good reasons to do the research or it wouldn't get funded. Also, just becuase we're not doing the research doesn't mean Big Enemey Of The Day isn't doing research either (that's the logic we violated the BWTC under!)

    Thanks for the info and the pertinent comments. Good luck in your career. I hope you never have to decide between publishing your work and putting the world in danger. Thanks.
  • Who's watching? You mean nonconspiracy stuff, right? AFAIK, there isn't anyone.

    Yes. I mean, are there any public watchdog organizations monitoring the spread of potentially deadly biological information in society?

    In the Village Voice article, people are calling on scientists to police themselves. Scientists normally publish their findings in various peer reviewed journals. Just recently I read a story about a growing number of scientists demanding that journals make their contents freely available online for everyone to read/download. What is to stop a Kaczinski/unabomber-type individual working alone in his/her garage from using published data to concoct and unleash some life threatening biological agent into the world?

    What I am driving at is this. Should not scientists be urged to anticipate possible dangerous consequences of their work and provide contingency plans, antidotes, etc... before they publish. Should this be the job of the editors or should some international watchdog organization be formed to suggest public policy and advise scientific journals on these issues? On a differnt slant, this also has definite bearing on free speech rights, etc...? I, for one, am very nervous about the spread of Big Brotherism or anything that further encroaches on our freedom. It's a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" kind of problem.

    I don't have any websites about this, all my references are paper journals. New Scientist had a lot of articles on these topics. If you're really serious about going and looking up the articles, I'll find my references and type them in.

    I would be grateful if you could post them.
  • Did not some weird guy with a beard predict this stuff about 2000 years ago? Did he not also say that the love of many would grow cold? I guess that if one country (or terrorist organization) is at war with one another, what's to stop them from targetting the other's population via genetically modified viruses. Heck why not target their food supply with a virus that destroys their crops? That would starve them to death! Problem is, this stuff can backfire and become a real nightmare for everybody, friend and foe alike.

    What's really scary is that the technology behind all this biological stuff may become so easy to duplicate or so cheap to acquire that your average Beavis and Butthead may think it's cool to fool around with it. Brave new world, indeed!
  • Makes me wonder... Maybe M$ could take this and make an "Alternative OS bomb"... anyone that uses a Linux, Unix, etc... would melt... or better yet, get the undeniable drive to buy overpriced M$ software...

    Ok, maybe not... but it could happen. Maybe.
  • And you don't even begin to talk about viruses and prions.
    Ebola and influenza are both viral diseases.

    I don't worry about prions; they require bad farming practices (like feeing animal-derived feed back to animals) to spread them. They are also ineffective for terrorism; they take years or decades to become evident, and biotech may find cures long before the majority of the infected develop symptoms. No terrorist is going to bother working with prions when bacteria and viruses have so much more promise.
    --
    Having 50 karma is an itchy feeling; I know I'll get

  • Actually, Ebola isn't that infective if common preventative measures are taken.
    I think you need to work on your reading comprehension, because I addressed that:
    If someone engineered a virus which had the gene for the Ebola toxin but was spread by sneezing...
    With modern techniques it might not even be that hard. Someone might be out in Africa right now, digging up a corpse from one of the Ebola outbreaks to get a virus sample. Of course, this would work a lot better against the ignorant masses of humanity living in crowded shantytowns in the third world than it would against the relatively well-educated Western societies, and it would be really hard to keep such a disease which could spread in the West from getting to those less-classy breeding grounds. The perpetrators of such an attack would be on just about everyone's fecal roster worldwide.
    --
    Having 50 karma is an itchy feeling; I know I'll get
  • Wonder why aren't we all dead from [insert deadly virus here]? Because all living systems have defense systems.
    Doesn't matter. Ebola is extremely infective if you are exposed and has a mortality rate of about 90%. If you have the kind of massive collapse of society that occurred in remote areas during the influenza epidemic early in the 20th century, just about everyone who fell sick would die because there would be nobody to take care of them. If too many people are sick you have no electricity or running water, and then you have even the "immune" people dying from dysentery, fires running through cities.... People do become immune to flu; it didn't help.

    What's kept us safe from diseases like Ebola is the sheer geographic isolation of the places where it is endemic, the rarity with which people encounter the animal vectors and the route of infection going through (easily-avoided) bodily fluids. If someone engineered a virus which had the gene for the Ebola toxin but was spread by sneezing and blew it around an international airport, the entire world would be gefukt.
    --
    Having 50 karma is an itchy feeling; I know I'll get

  • It's never seemed that plausible to me, but there are definitely conspiracy theory pundits out there who claim that A.I.D.S. is a 'lifestyle weapon' purposefully released.
  • They were actually using [b]mousepox[/b], not smallpox. Experimenting with smallpox would be a tad more dangerous.
  • Recently I heard a NPR broadcast regarding some scientists that were able to create a roadmap based upon the known mutations that HIV has undergone. They used powerful computers and created a computer model of HIV they then had this model mutate forward. Later they compared their results with HIV from the period they mutated their model to.

    Once they proved that they could determine what HIV would mutate into next they turned the computer model on a reverse course. They went back at least as far as the 50's. Then they took samples of virus fossils from hospitals in Africa.

    They determined that these samples from some unknown disease in the 50's was indeed early HIV. It is possible that HIV existed for many years prior to that. They could only locate the samples as far back as the 50's.

    I believe the show that I heard that on was the Todd Mundt show. It aired about 2 months ago.
  • I can't provide specific details, because I don't remember them. I do however, remember a case that goes back to 1968. Where a guy who was recently out of high school died and the death was mysterious that samples of his bodily fluid were preserved. In the late 1980's someone decided to have another look at those fluids and HIV was found.

    HIV has been with us for a while. While I do not discount the *possibility* that HIV was "man made", it had to have been fasioned from a pre existing precursor.

  • by scruffy (29773) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @01:16PM (#219194)
    It is not unreasonable to believe that we can create any DNA sequence we want. The problem is figuring out what the DNA sequence does.

    Once we can debug DNA reliably, these science fiction fantasies will become real. Isn't that what molecular biology is doing? I see lots of reasons to be fearful of the future. Is it realistic? Currently, it appears that no one knows, but lots of people are working on the problem, which is scary.

  • by brianvan (42539) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @01:32PM (#219195)
    is exactly what you state. Things don't work as expected. We'll be trying to cure baldness and we may inadvertently sterilize the whole human race. Most discoveries are made by accident. The good AND the bad ones...
  • by ffatTony (63354) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @12:43PM (#219196)

    I'm making a cowboyneal pathogen

  • by friscolr (124774) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @01:27PM (#219197) Homepage
    Check out War and Anti-War [amazon.com], written by the Tofflers in 1993. It's all about war in the Information Age and how much of a difference targetted, smart weapons make from industrial-era mass destruction weapons.

    A little premature reading about this today

    That is ridiculous. It is essential to think of tomorrow's problems today.

    "The release of atom power has changed everything except our way of thinking... The solution to this problem lies in the heart of mankind. If only I had known, I should have become a watchmaker."
    - Albert Einstein.

    -f

  • by Alien54 (180860) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @12:56PM (#219198) Journal
    Given that Radiation stays in one place, more or less, a nuclear weapon is relatively safe. A DNA weapon has no absolute gaurentees of safety, since the vectors can ultimately infiltrate every corner of earth. This becomes the blackmail of the suicide pack.

    This ultimately is more dangerous than nuclear war, because in something like thind, with the relatively low costs, what are the odds that someone is ghoing to want to purify the earth of the scourge and polution of humanity? this would look very weird in the archeological record when the next big civilization comes along in 50 - 75 million years.

    Check out the Vinny the Vampire [eplugz.com] comic strip

  • by Alien54 (180860) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @01:28PM (#219199) Journal
    There is this bit from a Fantasy and Science Fiction Column [sfsite.com] about a yarn about the A-Bomb printed during the 40's:

    I had read Szilard's satirical sf novel The Voice of the Dolphins in 1961, and his sf short stories, and from him heard the story, famous in the genre, of how in the spring of 1944 Cleve Cartmill published a clear description of how an atomic bomb worked in Astounding SF, titled "Deadline." Szilard mentioned to me that Cartmill's bomb would not have worked, but the story did stress that the key problem was separating non-fissionable isotopes from the crucial Uranium 235.

    This story became legend, proudly by fans touted after the war as proof of sf's predictive powers. It was a tale of an evil alliance called theAxis---oops, no, the Sixa---who are prevented from dropping the A-bomb, while their opponents, the Allies---no, oops, that's the Seilla---refrain from using the weapon, fearing its implications.

    As Campbell never tired of telling, in March 1944 a captain in the Intelligence and Security Division and the Manhattan Project called for an investigation of Cartmill."

    There is a lot more in the article, so go check it out. There are plenty of links if you do a common web search for the author's name, etc. The story in question has been in a number of anthologies, but I haven't found it online as far as downloading it goes.

    Check out the Vinny the Vampire [eplugz.com] comic strip

  • by Spamalamadingdong (323207) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @01:25PM (#219200) Homepage Journal
    ... short of a metric assload of lead sheilding, theres nothing you can do about a neutron bomb.
    Not even lead will save you from neutrons; what you want is hydrogen (water). THEN you use heavy stuff (lead works fine, so does stone) to stop the neutron-capture gammas. A pile of damp earth over some concrete is a reasonably effective shield.
    --
    Having 50 karma is an itchy feeling; I know I'll get
  • by astaines (451138) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @01:42PM (#219201) Homepage

    Some problems -

    It will probably be possible to make a virus which would require the presence of certain specific DNA elements in order to replicate i.e. to infect a host.

    What will be distinctly trickier is to make such a virus and prevent it from mutating, perhaps so as to no longer require such specific DNA elements before replicating. Unlike humans (and complex organisms) which have elaborate machineries for detecting and fixing errors in DNA replication, viruses have none.

    The first moral - analogies from computer science only apply to DNA up to a point. After that point they break down badly. Organisms are not Turing machines.

    The second moral - the genetically engineered anti-[insert your pet hate group here]-virus is quite likely to turn around and exterminate you.

    Before building your bio-weapon read something like Paul Ewald's [amherst.edu] book on 'The Evolution of Infectious Disease' or this article [cdc.gov]. Better yet, don't.

  • by No Tears In The End (452319) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @01:49PM (#219202)
    Two or three years ago, Israel admitted to working on biological agents that would target Iraqi people because of some unique genetic trait.

    I don't know how much progress they made, or even if they are still trying but the work was being done.

  • by supabeast! (84658) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @12:56PM (#219203)
    From the story- "The White House official says she'd like to see scientists police themselves better regarding what they publish and with whom they share data." Of course. Keep it all wrapped up. Leave it to the government to think of secrecy as an answer.
  • by fleener (140714) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @01:09PM (#219204)
    but there would still be some people immune to it.

    You mean you hope there would be some people immune to it. There are no guarantees.

  • by eXtro (258933) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @12:52PM (#219205) Homepage
    A little premature reading about this today, but give it a few years... Reading about nuclear weapons in 1940 would have seemed outrageous too.
    A little premature? Perhaps Michael should try paying attention to the news some time. Not too long ago some Australian scientists were experimenting with genetic modifications in an attempt to block fertility in mice. [go.com] They were using small pox virus and accidently created a super virulent strain of the virus. It was only harmful to mice, fortunately for humans.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @12:41PM (#219206)
    Genetically combine the best Thai cannabis with Kudzu and unleash it on the world! Bonus!!! It is possible, and while we are at this task, let us make this cannakudzu bear strawberries and grapes too!
  • by sharkey (16670) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @12:40PM (#219207)
    What would that be? A LeSabre dropped from a plane? A Taurus launched by a large catapult?

    --
  • by joq (63625) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @01:10PM (#219208) Homepage Journal


    Government has been doing things like this for years via most of their wars. Happened in Bosnia where a lot of their water is contaminated, and their food crops are expected to suffer unless the US intervenes to pay for the clean ups. Happened in Columbia too with their (*cough*bullshit*cough*) war on drugs.

    The application of a second "Agent Orange" over the Colombian Amazon, has caused tremendous alarm among international environmentalists and inhabitants of the region. But residents of Southern Colombia and the Ecuadorian border region of Sucumbios are now expecting a new and even greater threat to their health and their ecosystem - the release of a biological control that environmental activists are referring to as "Agent Green".


    Fusarium Oxysporum is a fungus native to temperate and tropical zones. In its natural state it is well-known as a plant pathogen that affects the roots and vacular systems of a variety of cultivated plants, causing disintegration of cells leading to withering, rot and death. Doctor David C. Sands, a plant pathologist at the University of Montana and one of the chief researchers on Fusarium Oxysporyum (FO) calls it "an Attila the Hun disease," noting that there are strains of fusarium for virtually every cultivated plant and many wild ones. Some species of fusarium have also been known to cause illness in humans, especially those with depressed immunity from cancer or HIV-AIDS.

    Read on [narconews.com]

    There are many instances of these outbreaks of shit going on in everyday life except their quickly hushed, or many people just don't have a strong enough voice to be heard.

    A third agreement breached by this joint policy of the U.S. and Colombia is the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity, signed by 157 nations during the historic meeting in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992. Article 3 of this convention confirms "the obligation to ensure that activities carried out within the jurisdiction of a state or under its control do not threaten the ecological balance within other states." Article 8 binds member parties to "Promote the protection of ecosystems and natural habitats without introducing exotic species that could threaten ecosystems, habitats or species." Article 14c states that "Each member nation will promote the notification and exchange of information regarding activities in its jurisdiction which could foreseeably have adverse effects on the biodiversity of another state, and will notify immediately in case of the emergence in its jurisdiction or control of imminent dangers for biodiversity under the jurisdiction of other states."


    That is to say, both Colombia and the U.S. are engaged in chemical and biological warfare in violation of international law and their own
    constitutions.

    According to the July 6 New York Times report ("Fungus Considered as a Tool to Kill Coca in Colombia"), lawyers at the White House and the State Department spent years debating whether or not the use of Fusarium Oxysporyum violated international conventions on biological warfare. They came to the conclusion that international law would not be violated if Colombia made its own decision to test or use the fungus. One U.S. intelligence official who maintains a stance against the fungus is quoted by the New York Times as saying, "I dont support using a product on a bunch of Colombian peasants that you wouldnt use against a bunch of rednecks growing marijuana in Kentucky. And there is definitely less than unanimous support for this in Colombia."

  • by Speare (84249) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @01:37PM (#219209) Homepage Journal

    I think the posting is about using genetically modified organisms as weapons. It's like throwing a resource-hungry but unusuable corn seeds on a pasture, because it will ruin our crops. Why use a naturally-occurring parasite like kudzu when you can slip it in secretly?

    Super-infections are almost assuredly available in today's weapons arsenal, even if our current treaties may forbid their use. Stephen King's "The Stand" is a piece of fiction from about 1988(?), and describes what effect a super influenza could do to the world population. Regular anthrax is a likely real weapon, since the effects are so undetectable or similar to the common cold, up until sudden death a few days later.

    Eradicating certain plants can be just as devastating. Kudzu has been mentioned here already, and California is realizing that the common but non-native eucalyptus tree is a pest that vigorously reduces biodiversity wherever it's been planted. GM crops tend to look like regular crops, but could affect the viability of the food just as undetectably as anthrax infects people. Plant and leave. In a few months, the victim has absolutely no harvest, or worse, has a field that cannot be reused for some time.

  • by PYves (449297) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @12:57PM (#219210)
    It's pretty intense that they can target you directly according to how your genes are. I wonder how accurate you could be, especially since all of our genes are pretty much the same.. I can see some disturbing results where attempts to assassinate someone specific person through a supposedly "individual" virus ends up killing everyone with a similar gene sequence.

    2002 -"George W. Bush dies of unknown causes"

    2017 -"SAT scores at record highs!"

    (ok ok I'm just kidding about W.)

    -PYves

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