Bioterrorism (Biological Warfare) is defined as the usage of infectious agents in killing or causing injuries to human’s, plants, and animals. It has been used all over the world by many different countries. Along with nuclear and chemical weapons, biological weapons are classified as a Weapon of Mass Destruction (2). It’s a mass destruction weapon because of it being highly contagious and having the ability to spread, creating a “blast radius” that is virtually endless.
The reason why the impact of bioterrorism is so big nowadays is because powerful nations have the technology to create and also vaccinate different diseases while their weaker counter parts cannot (4). The CDC (US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) subdivided into three different categories the aggressiveness of “Bioweapons”. Category A comprises of the plague, Anthrax, Smallpox, Botulism, Tularemia, Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers, Ebola, and Marpurg. These toxins pose the highest risk to the public. Category B pathogens are Melioidosis, Q fever, Hepatitis A, E. oli, and Salmonella.
Category B are the second highest priority agents because they are moderately easy to spread or disperse. They however have a low mortality rate. Finally. Category C has the Yellow fever virus, Tuberculosis, Influenza, and Rabies. It’s the third highest priority but, it does include emerging pathogens that could be engineered as a weapon in the future. Outbreaks of Bioterrorism have been suggested to have occurred all the way back in biblical times. In Exodus it describes “boils erupted on men and beasts” Boils is one of the symptoms of anthrax (6).
Biological Warfare has been used mostly during times of conflict between two countries. One of the biggest uses of Bioterrorism was during the bubonic plague. People would catapult dead bodies into cities to kill of a city. It was very effective because of ability to spread so fast. Bioterrorism is a very controversial topic there are many reasons why it’s helpful, and many reasons it’s too destructive. It’s very helpful because it’s a very effective way of taking out a group of people or a vast area of plants.
During World War two the U. S tested a pathogen to kill and infect all of the rice crops in japan. Japan relied heavily on rice as its main food source. If the U. S would have actually put it into effect instead of just testing it. There would have been a major famine crisis in Japan because of the shortage of rice. You can rely on biological weapons if you wanted to affect wide area and numerous individuals in a snap. It’s cheap to create and not too difficult. Biological agents can be spread from one individual to another and these can kill effectively and affect one country or even the entire continent.
Biological weapons are easy to make, use and store (1). As long as you have a container for storage and knowledge on how to prepare and make biological weapons. Wearing protective gears when preparing agents and weapons are necessary to ensure your safety. In biological warfare scenario, you will notice that weapons are dispersed easily. Killing might be bad but there are instances that biological warfare entails benefits for the government (3). One day in a small town in Washington. They had a rainstorm, it wasn’t an ordinary rainstorm though which this small city gets often.
It rained some sort of jelly rain. The town folk said it was just like clear jello falling from the sky. It turned out to be some living organism with human white blood cells inside of it. During, the rest of the month people were in and out of the hospital with the symptoms of the flu. Nobody died from this strange phenomenon except for an 8 week old cat. It can’t be proven that this was a government test but, there are many clues leaning toward it. Even though this is a bad situation, it proves that bioweapons can be used to sicken people without killing them (2).
If there are reasons for it being good then there has to be reasons for it to be bad. There are a lot more reasons why it’s bad. One of the biggest disadvantages of biological warfare it its nature of being unpredictable (2). Going back to World War two, Japan had a biowarfare unit. The biggest accomplishment from this group is they infected Chinese wells with Cholera. Statistics from the Health Resource Fund say that for every attack it caused about 10,000 casualties. It was a successful operation by the Japanese until, it ran rampant and they lost control.
That incident accidentally killed 1,700 Japanese troops (2). The CDC discovered that biological weapons can linger for the longest period of time. For example, Anthrax can lice for more than 50 years in the soil. Signifying the longer it stays the more possibilities of unwanted effects. Biological agents can be extremely difficult to detect and it can be from hours to Weekes before people start to notice symptoms. This can be good against very terrorist because they won’t find out what hit them until later. Unfortunately terrorists can also create their own pathogen and release into the U. S without anyone knowing.
There have been many terrorist attacks lately in Europe. However, they have all been suicide bombers or gunman. We can quickly detect one of these attacks when they happen. It would take a lot longer if they were to release a toxin on a city. Probably the biggest Con about biological warfare is that it’s been outlawed since 1972 (3). The treaty that outlawed these practices has been ratified by over 170 countries. If someone tries to wipe out a whole population it will be very hard because it can’t be 100 % effective. About 10% is naturally immune to the biological compounds someone used to form into a weapon.
Millions of people innocent people have been killed by biological warfare since before the 6th century. There is just too much collateral damage. There are always going to be civilians who are not active combatants in whatever conflict has risen. Sadly, the pathogen isn’t just going to wipe out the combatants. It’s going to take out everyone potentially murdering. It’s hard to take a stance for biowarfare, taking the fact that it is illegal. I however think that it’s perfectly appropriate in the name of war only if some other country attacked us first.
Another controversial topic that ties in perfectly to this topic is the nuclear bomb and the death of thousands in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I only support this devastating attack because of what Japan did to the U. S and the bombing of Pearl Harbor. I do not support it when we do it just to kill thousands of people without a reason. It’s a lot cheaper and easier to create pathogens then to invent new form of weaponry in the gun or tank department. The U. S is a very powerful county with a big target on it for terrorist attacks.
I like the thought of Biological engineered viruses because they can be used to create a sense of fear in the eyes of terrorists all over the world. People always say fear keeps you alive, so, if we can put fear in the eyes of people without killing them. Sickness is a natural part of life. Everyone gets sick eventually. Using pathogens almost seems natural, at least more natural than using guns. The main reason I support biowarfare is that it’s a lot safer to American soldiers to release a disease to cripple the bad guys than to send all these young men and women into the middle of a gunfight where many of them are shot and killed.
Bioterrorism is the deliberate release of agents used to cause sickness and sometimes death. It is a much debated topic because it can be used as a weapon of mass destruction but, it can be used to save the lives of young Americans enlisted in the army. Both the CDC and the American Red Cross have teamed up to create a safer environment from different agents and pathogens. It doesn’t have to cause always cause death. There are many different agents that can just bring sickness and some discomfort for a short period of time.