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gnat (29)

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Journal of gnat (29)

Thursday September 26, 2002
12:59 PM

Vacuous Wired article

[ #8030 ]
Wired has a piece on the release of the Brucella genome on the net. Brucella's mainly an animal disease but human strains exist and were used by many countries (including the US) to create bioweapons (e.g., placed in warheads for distribution, etc.).

The article, though, is complete crap. It has a lot of defensive scientists ("we think the benefits to research outweigh the risks", etc.) but never once tells us how a terrorist might use this. They obviously wouldn't use it to make brucella--if you wanted to get brucella, you'd collect it from people who have the disease (e.g., farmers) and culture it. Good old 1960s technology.

I asked on the ORA bioinformatics list and someone suggested that possibly if the disease-causing portion of the genome could be identified, it could be synthesized and added to other organisms. But I don't think that has happened yet.

So we have an article that paints a picture of terrorists having easy access to biological data that is useful for biowarfare, but doesn't tell us how it can be used or how easy it is to use it. Argh!


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