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Biological Warfare: The ethical questions behind bio-terrorism

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Finance
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Michael L.
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  1. Introduction
  2. Biological attacks
  3. Anthrax attacks
  4. Conclusion

Last year's Swine Flu panic made our complacency to chemical and biological threats readily apparent and very much like during the Anthrax attacks of 2001, confusion and apprehension spread quicker than most could have ever imagined. Health authorities were caught by surprise and the general public panicked out of proportion to the actual threat. The level of panic though, even if somewhat of an over-reaction, was certainly not unwarranted. Biological attacks, unlike a bombing or a hijacking, are limitless in both geographically and economically. Because of the potential consequences, we must ask ourselves: Are we currently safe from a major biological attack?

Or rather, would we be able to contain the damage if something of that nature were to happen? Given the reaction to the recent Swine Flu outbreak, it certainly does not seem as if we are prepared. There are various ethical drawbacks, however, to an increased emphasis on bioterrorism, and it is important that all factors be considered before ultimately deciding whether or not our nation should focus in on this fast-growing issue more-so than we currently do.

The most prevalent, and most obvious, of reasons for an increase in bioterrorism research is the growing concern of an imminent attack on our nation. According to Fox News, a panel predicted that terrorists are likely to attack the United States using nuclear or biological weapons before 2013.

[...] Biological attacks, unlike a bombing or a hijacking, are limitless in both geographically and economically. Because of the potential consequences, we must ask ourselves: Are we currently safe from a major biological attack? Or rather, would we be able to contain the damage if something of that nature were to happen? Given the reaction to the recent Swine Flu outbreak, it certainly does not seem as if we are prepared. There are various ethical drawbacks, however, to an increased emphasis on bioterrorism, and it is important that all factors be considered before ultimately deciding whether or not our nation should focus in on this fast-growing issue more-so than we currently do. [...]


[...] So much more lies behind simply access to dangerous pathogens. Scientists with knowledge must be involved, expensive and specific equipment must be acquired to produce mass amounts of the toxic material, and it is a great risk on the terrorist side as toxic materials are far more dangerous than the conventional bombs and firearms. Another substantial reason the likelihood of a bio-attack is near implausible is because any successful bio-attack would most likely have to be state sponsored, and something of that nature has never happened in history. [...]

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