22 January 1999. Thanks to Anon.

See related defensive human genome remarks by President Clinton: http://jya.com/bbr012299.htm


Electronic Telgraph, Issue 1337 Friday 22 January 1999

Genetic Science 'Could Be Used For Ethnic Cleansing'
By Aisling Irwin, Science Correspondent 

Rapid advances in genetics will soon transform biological weapons into
potent tools of ethnic cleansing and terrorism, according to doctors.

The British Medical Association said that weapons that could distinguish
between ethnic groups by exploiting tiny genetic or cellular differences
between them could be a reality within a decade. Just as breakthroughs in
atomic physics earlier this century led rapidly to the nuclear bomb, genetic
science was providing researchers with new means of aiming and delivering
biological weapons, the association said. 

Launching a report, Biotechnology Weapons and Humanity, the BMA called for
"urgent and intense" efforts to tighten the Biological and Toxin Weapons
Convention, agreed in 1972 to stop the spread of biological and chemical
weapons. In reality, such weapons are "poorly regulated and controlled", the
BMA argued. The report noted that while biological weapons had been around
since the earliest times, they had always had huge disadvantages, in
particular the risk of infecting more than just the enemy.

But these barriers would soon be overcome because of the knowledge being
generated by the Human Genome Project, an international effort to locate
every element of the human genetic blueprint by 2003, and by the Human
Genetic Diversity Project, in which scientists were recording the genetics
of threatened ethnic groups.

The report said: "In genetic terms there are more similarities between
different people and peoples than there are differences. But the differences
exist, and may singly, or in combination, distinguish the members of one
social group from another."

These markers could be harnessed as triggers so that an agent such as a
disease-carrying virus would be harmless to those who did not possess them.
The report conceded that such predictions might sound like science fiction
and said "genetic warfare is not, in all probability, a practical
possibility today". But it noted the growing number of scientists who were
issuing warnings that such methods would soon be possible. 

Terrorist groups could develop biological weapons relatively easily. Their
manufacture would require experienced scientists but detailed instructions
were available on the Internet. A conference to review the 1972 convention
is due in 2001 and the text of a verification protocol is now being

The Foreign Office said Britain was leading an effort to improve the
convention. A disarmament conference in Geneva on Jan 4 began negotiations
which aim to compile a set of verification protocols. Britain has offered to
host the signing ceremony for the finalised agreement.

Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 1999. 

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The Gordon and Breach Publishing Group



The British Medical Association, London, UK

This report considers whether new biological weapons, made possible by the
mapping of the human genome, could be incorporated into the arsenals of
states and terrorist organizations. How might the revolution in
biotechnology be used to attack the genetic constitution of a national or
ethnic group, or enhance the virulence of organizations hostile to human

Biotechnology, Weapons and Humanity traces the historical development of
biological weapons and considers the role of health care professionals,
scientists, governments, and international agencies in limiting and managing
the effects of new biological weapons. In particular, the strengths and
weaknesses of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention are examined, and
steps that can be taken to minimize the risk of the proliferation of

Medical professionals; scientists; public policy makers interested in arms
regulation and civil defense; undergraduates, graduates and researchers in
politics, international relations and the biological sciences; and the
general reader. 

January 1999  176pp     
Cloth      ISBN: 90-5702-459-4  US$39 / £25 / EUR33
Paperback  ISBN: 90-5702-460-8  US$22 / £14 / EUR18
Harwood Academic Publisher

All prices are tentative and subject to change.

Copyright 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V.

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