The usage of Biological weapons is a thorny issue, especially during the twentieth and twenty-atheist. And it has caused much controversy in political and of human rights purview.
A biological weapon is a virus, bacteria are used to cause a serious injuries and death to others in wars. After using some of these biological weapons in the last two centuries; during the First World War, the Second world war and The Gulf War many people fought against using these weapons because they are harmful to humans and leave a negative impact on the environment and future generations of human beings.
Since ancient times and human being was fighting against each other for the sake of power and entered into many wars and battles to survive or just to prove that he is the strongest.
This led human to seek for many different ways to triumph over the enemy. And developing dangerous weapons was one of these methods.
Starting from making arrows, daggers and even deadly toxins that are extracted from animals, it was all for the purpose of hurt. Whether if the target was the enemy or obstacle in front of their goal.
Thanks to technology in the twentieth century man has invented so-called weapons-biological, despite the presence of biological weapons since ancient times, but since twentieth century biological warfare has reached its highest and the most dangerous level.
Biological agents are very strong and affective weapons, but the damage that is caused behind them is much more dangerous than what people think. BWs usually can affect on living organisms for many years, it can destroy the ecosystem and cause a genetic defect on the upcoming generations. Regardless of how dangerous BWs are, the usage of it is also immoral and against humanity.
Definition of biological weapons:
Biological weapons are bacteria, viruses, or other disease-causing Often used in wars between countries, and aims to harm and injure or cause death to the enemy or the target.. these agent can be used to harm certain people or a particular country or city.
The history of biological weapons is surprisingly long almost as early as 600 BC.1 when humans found out how to make arrows and other primitive weapons; they used to put poison that was taken from animals or plants on their weapons. And kill their enemies so they either die from the wound or the poison. And sometimes they were putting poisons and animal feces in their enemy’s food and drink.
History of biological weapons is divided into two parts, the first part is its history of BWs before the twentieth century and the second part is after the twentieth century, because of the scientific revolution and inventions in that particular era. The following are just a few examples throughout history:
During the Roman Empire animal carcasses were used animal to contaminate their enemies’ wells. This helped them to make their enemy sick therefore beating them was easy.
In the 14th and 15th centuries during the Black Plague using dead bodies and excrement as weapons continued in.
In general, they used these methods as biological weapons before the twentieth century:
Poisoning of food and water with infectious germs and material.
Use of toxins or living or dead animals in a weapon system
Use of biologically inoculated fabrics.
During the twentieth century biological weapons evolved very highly, because of the development in various fields of science that witnessed that era, besides that, major wars such as World War I and II made many countries spend a lot of money to establish bio-weapons and research programs to produce biological agent. At that time biological weapons has become a master of the situation.
The Japanese military formed a special unit to investigate biological weapons in 1918,. U.S. and U.K followed in 1942.
The period 1940 – 1969 can be considered the golden age of biological warfare research and development in the US. Some of United States biological weapons program:
U.S. Army Biological Warfare Laboratories (1943-69)
One-Million-Liter Test Sphere.
The Former Soviet Union had an important biological weapons program, which might have extended well into the period after its dissolution, for example they had a weaponized smallpox center called Vector State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology (VECTOR).
There are three main Classifications for biological agents, each type has its characteristics:
Category A agents:
Category A agents have the potential of high damage and impact negatively on public health, also it has ability to spread widely. Many of these agents require Biosafety Level 4 laboratories. (This level is required for work with dangerous and exotic agents that pose a high individual risk.)
The Category A has many bio-agents such as include anthrax, smallpox, plague, botulism, tularemia, and viral hemorrhagic fevers
Category B agents:
Category B agents have average for the proliferation, and the mortality rate caused by the disease is relatively low.
Agents B are Epsilon toxin of Clostridium perfringens, Melioidosis, Q fever (Coxiella burnetii), Brucellosis, Glanders, Ricin toxin, Water supply threats.
Category C agents:
Category C agents can be easily produced in laboratories and have a high rate of infection, or death.
They are pathogens that might be engineered for mass dissemination. Agents such as multi-drug resistant Tuberculosis (MTB) and Nipah virus.
Ideal characteristics of biological weapon:
Diseases are most likely to be considered for use as biological weapons, because it is easy to obtain and legalize these viruses and bacteria that cause the disease in the laboratory. But the real challenge is not how to make biological weapons, but how to affect the victim easily and effectively.
So therefore the Ideal characteristics of biological weapon are:
- high infectivity
- high potency
- non-availability of vaccines
- airborne delivery
These are some other examples of biological weapons their organism, symptoms, mortality and treatment:
One of the well-known biological weapons is Anthrax. Anthrax is a disease caused by bacteria called Bacillus anthracis. It affects both humans and other animals, it has many forms such as Cutaneous -Skin anthrax- , most of the time these forms are lethal. In 1875 Robert Koch, a German scientist, first identified the bacteria which caused the anthrax disease.
Anthrax can be spread by spores. And these spores can be transported by clothing or shoes. The dead body of an animal that died of anthrax can also be a source of anthrax spores. Also Anthrax spores can be produced in vitro as a biological weapon.
During the 1930s Unit 731 of the Japanese Kwantung has tested Anthrax as a bio-agent.
The Soviet Union created and stored 100 to 200 tons of anthrax spores at Kantubek on Vozrozhdeniya Island. They were abandoned in 1992 and destroyed in 2002.
In the USA, in the 2001 anthrax attacks a concentrated anthrax spores were used for bioterrorism.
Symptoms of Anthrax are:
- Vomiting of blood
- Acute inflammation of the intestinal tract
- Gastrointestinal difficulty
- Loss of appetite
- Sore throat.
- Collapse of intestinal tract
In the last few years there have been a lot of researches to develop strong, effective drugs against Anthrax , there are some existing drugs and vaccine that can also be effective but only if treatment was started soon enough. The anthrax vaccine, produced by BioPort Corporation, contains non-living bacteria, and is approximately 93% effective in preventing infection Adsorbed (AVA).
Anthrax and bioterrorism:
One week after the 911 attacks A letter containing anthrax spores was sent to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle two postal workers were affected by it causing death to them. The letter with the anthrax spores killed five people and infected 17 others.20
The ensuing investigation became “one of the largest and most complex in the history of law enforcement.
The effects of BWs:
After defining the biological weapons and mention some of it’s example. Knowing the damage that occurs because of biological weapons and their impact on the environment and living organisms around us and to humans is very important. There are many negative effects of BWs on our life for example
It can change the disease that meant only to kill and injure humans as genetic strands of DNA can mutate it might changes into another thing that could effect and kill other living species like animals and plants. This means that BWs has a long and lasting effect on us, much longer than the length of the conflict. From that it turns out that the next generations will be in big threat. The genetic mutation can manifest itself in many different forms. New born babies will go through prematurity because of the genetic mutation; also the number new born babies with birth defects will increase. It is also known that a people will be susceptible to many different forms of diseases which will weaken their immune system.
In addition to that there is another disadvantage, some of biological agents last for really long time, for example anthrax can live up to 50 years in soil.
When detonating a biological weapon it won’t has one specific target but it can and does affect people, animals and plants within its impact radius which is hard to control. This means that it has an ability to kill many innocent civilians including elders and children. As an example biological weapon was used in the French and Indian War in the year of 1651, the English offered blankets to Native Americans that were infected with Smallpox which caused death to many Native Americans.
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International efforts to stop BWs:
In 1972 many countries signed the Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention, which banned the “development, production and stockpiling of microbes or their poisonous products except in amounts necessary for protective and peaceful research”. By 1996, 137 countries had signed the treaty; however it is believed that since after the convention many countries had developed BW programs.
The Biological Weapons Convention:
- Article I: Never under any circumstances to acquire or retain biological weapons.
- Article II: To destroy or divert to peaceful purposes biological weapons and associated resources prior to joining.
- Article III: Not to transfer, or in any way assist, encourage or induce anyone else to acquire or retain biological weapons.
- Article IV: To take any national measures necessary to implement the provisions of the BWC domestically.
- Article V: To consult bilaterally and multilaterally to solve any problems with the implementation of the BWC.
- Article VI: To request the UN Security Council to investigate alleged breaches of the BWC and to comply with its subsequent decisions.
- Article VII: To assist States which have been exposed to a danger as a result of a violation of the BWC.
- Article X: To do all of the above in a way that encourages the peaceful uses of biological science and technology.
According to the US Office of Technology Assessment, since disbanded of BWs, seventeen countries were believed to possess biological weapons in 1995: Libya, North Korea, South Korea, Iraq, Taiwan, Syria, Israel, Iran, China, Egypt, Vietnam, Laos, Cuba, Bulgaria, India, South Africa, and Russia.
Biological weapons are unique in their invisibility and their delayed effects. It is a threat to human beings and future generations not mentioning the environment.
It causes fear and confusion among the people. Biological weapons can do way far that just causing death and, it creates fear in the hearts of people.
And the goal is to confuse and disrupt political, economic and social activities; a small number of infections may cause a huge panic among innocent citizens and a real fear, such as the anthrax attacks letters.
Biological warfare has become very possible at this time .The science of genetics is constantly evolving and there are many countries that have established research Centers biological weapons on the pretext of “peaceful research”.
In my opinion, biological weapons should be stopped. The International efforts and the medical community should coordinate to set moral limits, for some of these researches that develop deadly weapons. In addition, media have to raise people awareness of the seriousness of the biological weapons and show them how to deal with it or how to act if a biological agent attack took a place.
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