Ethnic-bioweapons: between conspiracy and reality

Bioweapons exist, while ethnic-bioweapons are whispered conspiracies. Pandemics can fairly hazardous to human life, the 1918 Flu Pandemic killed 20-50 million people. A man made pandemic could cause complete pandemonium, and an unimaginable death toll. So is the future of biological based weapons.

As technology progresses we must come to secure that which poses such a grave risk to us. This risk becomes exasperated as it moves from theoretical realms into a more tangible reality. Those who seek to wrought destruction through its might will transgress from technologically advanced states and into the hands of nefarious groups of people. Melinda Gates recently declared these people the biggest threat to humanity. Yet, somewhere between paranoia and possibility states could be developing weapons that target people down to the gene. The changing gaze of security.

Genetic bioweapons are weapons designed to target certain ethnic groups. Once released, it would only target those whose genes it was designed to attack. This might seem like the first chapter of a dystopian novel, however, a 2004 report, Biotechnology, Weapons and Humanity II, gave heed that construction of such weapons “is now approaching reality”. The rate of progress in some areas of bioscience is exponential. Which makes 2004 a long time ago. It’s possible to write such ideas off as quackery, as an esoteric realm pseudoscience for cranks and idiots, but states may be taking them seriously.

The international arena sees states pitted against each other wondering what the other may do. They reflexively act in their own self interest, for their own protection. The international community on the other hand tries its best to mitigate against state fear by installing institutions and regimes that attempt to curtail the paradoxes bellicosity and trepidation. The most secret of programmes drawn from the darkest parts of defence structures can be black boxes shrouded by monolithic security apparatuses. These are actions we can only speculate about, but sometimes snippets of information are leaked from these boxes, and they become the points we can begin to draw lines between.

In 2008 the US government held a congressional committee on, ‘Genetics and other human modification technologies: sensible international regulation or a new kind of arms race?’ The bulk of which discussed advances of in genetics and its potential to be weaponized. During this they discuss how, “we can anticipate a world where rogue (and even not-so-rogue) states and non-state actors attempt to manipulate human genetics in ways that will horrify us”. They spoke about the using “DNA to create modified infectious agents, new toxins, using genetic DNA techniques”. New bio-weapons.

A testimony to the committee by Richard Hayes, Executive Director, Center for Genetics and Society, elucidated: “we also need to acknowledge that a world still far from having overcome its propensity for racism, xenophobia and warfare, the possibility of a techno-eugenic arms race driven by nationalist fervour cannot be dismissed…in 2003 the Sunshine Project documented nearly a dozen possible uses of genetic science for biowarfare purposes. Including the creation of ethnicity-specific pathogens…we now need to add bioweaponry incorporating human genetic technology to our arms control portfolio.” The threat is almost tangible.

The Snowden files, a leak exposing the surveillance techniques and methods used by the the United States government provides a document that proves they fear the work of others. The file details a cryptanalysis intern’s experience working for the Office of Tradecraft for Analysis in which she states she gained: “general knowledge about genetic engineering research activity by foreign entities and to identify laboratories and/or individuals who may be involved in nefarious use of genetic research.” The threat is digital, and transmittable across a network.

Russia takes things further. The masters of doublespeak and false narratives have weaved a tale all the way back to 2007, when a Russian newspaper, Kommersant, reported the banning of all exports of human biosamples from Russia due to the fear of ethnic bioweapons. Bringing it back in vogue in 2017, the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, during a speech at Russia’s Human Rights Council told those gathered: “do you know that biological material is being collected all over the country, from different ethnic groups and people living in different geographical regions of the Russian Federation?”. Adding:” the question is – why is it being done? It’s being done purposefully and professionally”.

His statement led to a Russian MP, Gennady Onishchenko, to call for biological security legislation to control access to Russians’ DNA. Russia would have you believe the threat is real.

This a debate that has surfaced for at least a decade. The duel use of novel ways to manipulate the world can lead to novel threats. The realm of science fiction is possibly becoming a rapid reality, so perhaps we should not discount seemingly far fetched possibilities.

Perhaps it is sometimes best to draw those lines where they may not exist, and to ask questions that seem tightly embraced in paranoia. To shine a light into the darkest of black boxes. For what is developed in secret will find its way into the public, and downstream we will all feel the blowback. A threat? We can all indulge in conspiracy.

Get the best viral stories straight into your inbox!

Don't worry, we don't spam

Leave a Reply

Join the Badger Team

Apply today!

Latest Posts

Union obliterates the debate – unwritten requirement used to shut down free speech debate
Campus News
251 views1
Campus News
251 views1

Union obliterates the debate – unwritten requirement used to shut down free speech debate

Jordan Wright - April 27, 2018

Student society Liberate the Debate’s most recent event was cancelled over a lack of compliance with the Students' Union's (USSU) requirement for a neutral chair - a…

Exhibition: Io-sono Fedilouu
Artist Focus
55 views
Artist Focus
55 views

Exhibition: Io-sono Fedilouu

Ricardo Reverón Blanco - May 16, 2018

Last week artist Fedilou made her debut exhibition in the downstairs space of Morelli Zorelli, a quaint vegan Italian restaurant in Hove, featuring a collection of intimate…

Interview with Philosophy faculty and COGS director Ron Chrisley
Interview
37 views
Interview
37 views

Interview with Philosophy faculty and COGS director Ron Chrisley

Nikolaos Manesis - May 15, 2018

Ron Chrisley is a Reader in Philosophy, on the faculty of the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science, and is the director of COGS (Centre for Cognitive Science).…

Adam review
Arts
83 views
Arts
83 views

Adam review

Ketan Jha - May 13, 2018

If you have been a stranger to the stage this spring and decide to see one contemporary show, let it be Adam. This reviewer went in entirely…

Brighton Fringe Preview: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)
Arts
73 views
Arts
73 views

Brighton Fringe Preview: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)

Sophie Coppenhall - May 13, 2018

In celebration of iconic Brighton local, legendary alt-rock musician (and episodic actor) Nick Cave, TOM’s Film Club are hosting a double-bill screening of his films at The…

Whimsical fairy-tale meets class war – Standard: Elite review
Arts
89 views
Arts
89 views

Whimsical fairy-tale meets class war – Standard: Elite review

Georgia Grace - May 11, 2018

Meta-theatricality and interactivity are becoming all the more vogue in contemporary theatre, and in a world where the arts are becoming increasingly open and democratised, I find…

A Year of Art Society: The Best Picks
Artist Focus
81 views
Artist Focus
81 views

A Year of Art Society: The Best Picks

Alex Leissle - May 9, 2018

  [gallery type="slideshow" ids="35385,35386,35387,35388,35389,35390,35391,35392,35393,35394,35395,35396,35397,35398,35399,35400,35401,35402,35403,35404,35405,35406,35407,35408,35409,35410,35411"]

More Brit(ish) than ever: A review of Afua Hirsch at Brighton Festival
Books
69 views
Books
69 views

More Brit(ish) than ever: A review of Afua Hirsch at Brighton Festival

William Singh - May 9, 2018

Afua Hirsch’s 2018 book - part memoir, part polemic - provokes mixed feelings. So too did her discussion of the topic at this year’s Brighton Festival. Don’t…

Breaking: Spring referenda results announced
News
144 views
News
144 views

Breaking: Spring referenda results announced

Jessica Hubbard - May 4, 2018

Students have voted to support the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement, reject Prevent and adopt new Gender Equality policies. Results for the Students' Union referenda were…

Why I’m Jewish AND I support BDS
Comment
142 views
Comment
142 views

Why I’m Jewish AND I support BDS

Sarah McIntosh - May 2, 2018

The idea of a land where my religious identity is welcomed and where I feel safe to be myself and live in peace is a beautiful idea…

Student research happening at Sussex
Features
127 views
Features
127 views

Student research happening at Sussex

Nikolaos Manesis - May 1, 2018

(Image source: Flickr, Pixabay, Wikipedia) Another academic year is coming to a close and with it, the last edition of The Badger. To celebrate our last science…

Sussex Festival cancelled
Campus News
177 views
Campus News
177 views

Sussex Festival cancelled

Jordan Wright - April 30, 2018

The Students’ Union have cancelled their highly anticipated end-of-term event Sussex Festival: Desert Island Disco, which was due to begin on Saturday May 12th. The Students’ Union…

Students’ Union President Gustafsson and Liberate the Debate respond to the cancelled event
Comment
195 views
Comment
195 views

Students’ Union President Gustafsson and Liberate the Debate respond to the cancelled event

Jordan Wright - April 27, 2018

These comment pieces represent the opinions of both the Students' Union and Liberate the Debate with regards to the  recent cancellation of the Society's freedom of speech…

Artist Focus: Rory Hinshelwood
Artist Focus
132 views
Artist Focus
132 views

Artist Focus: Rory Hinshelwood

Louisa Hunt - April 25, 2018

Rory Hinshelwood studies Zoology with Spanish at Sussex. His brand is called Poplar St., at the moment the brand sell embroidered high-quality t-shirts. Rory works mostly in graphics…

Artist Focus: Maayan Cohen
Artist Focus
97 views
Artist Focus
97 views

Artist Focus: Maayan Cohen

Emma Phillips - April 24, 2018

The Badger spoke with Sussex University’s Maayan Cohen about her creative workshop, ‘Bits and Pieces.’ Can you tell us a bit about Bits and Pieces- what’s the…

Voodoo enthralls at The Old Market – review
Arts
106 views
Arts
106 views

Voodoo enthralls at The Old Market – review

Ricardo Reverón Blanco - April 24, 2018

As part of South East Dance’s micro-festival, Undisciplined, Voodoo comes to being as a collaboration between South East Dance and Project O. Project O brings artists Alexandrina…

Arts
110 views

Trial & error: Sex, sass and foolishness through dance

Ricardo Reverón Blanco - April 24, 2018

For the concluding show of South East Dance’s micro-festival, Double Bill brings two short performances to The Old Market’s stage: Comebacks I thought of later by Eleanor…

An evening with Candoco Dance Company – review
Arts
167 views
Arts
167 views

An evening with Candoco Dance Company – review

Georgia Grace - April 24, 2018

Last week at the Attenborough Centre, the phenomenally unique and refreshing dance company Candoco brought to the stage a double bill of performances exploring identity, community and…

Jake Bugg at Brighton Dome
Arts
159 views
Arts
159 views

Jake Bugg at Brighton Dome

Matthew Nicholls - April 19, 2018

Following the release of his Fourth Studio album ‘Hearts that Strain’ in September 2017, Jake Bugg decided he wanted an intimate tour, and that is exactly what…

Should Instrumental Skill Still Matter?
Arts
140 views
Arts
140 views

Should Instrumental Skill Still Matter?

Rob Smith - April 19, 2018

I am not advocating that all music, no matter how little talent is required, is by default innovative. I will eagerly admit that much of the bland,…