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Complementary Role of Environnmental and Security Biological Control Regimes in the 21st Century

NCJ Number
Journal of American Medical Association Volume: 278 Issue: 5 Dated: August 6, 1997 Pages: 369-372
Graham S. Pearson Ph.D.
Date Published
August 1997
4 pages
This document focuses on the complementary roles of national security and environmental protection.
There is increased concern worldwide about disease, whether natural or deliberate. Biological warfare is disease deliberately induced in humans, animals, or plants as a hostile act. There has also been a greater worldwide awareness of the need to protect the environment. There are two driving forces to ensure that potentially hazardous biological materials are not misused--one stemming from national and international security considerations and the other from the recognition of the need to protect the environment. The deliberate use of disease is recognized by some as the major security concern relating to weapons of mass destruction. Some nations still maintain the right to retaliate in kind should biological warfare be used against them. There are no provisions for verification of compliance. It is evident that there is an urgent need to strengthen the regime for the third class of weapons of mass destruction. Concern about the proliferation and potential acquisition of biological weapons in the changing world is justified. The possibility that biological materials may become attractive to nonstate actors, splinter groups, or terrorists cannot be discounted. Negotiations are proceeding to develop a protocol to ensure that living modified organisms are handled safely and are used and transferred without danger to human health and to the environment. Security and environmental considerations are both important. They share a common aim of ensuring transparency in the use and transfer of biological materials, thereby building confidence that such materials are not being misused. 31 references