Biology, Books for the News, Politics and Current Events

“The Terrorist Crop-Duster”

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As Lynn C. Klotz and Edward J. Sylvester write in this recent article from the Huffington Post, in the wake of 9/11, and the subsequent lethal anthrax letters, the United States has spent billions of dollars on measures to defend the population against the threat of biological weapons. Over the last decade a significant proportion of taxpayer dollars have been funneled into clandestine biosecurity labs where thousands of scientists labor to identify possible terrorist threats, and produce countermeasures to protect a vulnerable population. But in their article as in their recent book, Breeding Bio Insecurity: How U.S. Biodefense Is Exporting Fear, Globalizing Risk, and Making Us All Less Secure, Klotz and Sylvester convincingly argue that all that money and effort hasn’t actually made us any safer—in fact, it has made us more vulnerable.
In the article, the authors use a scenario put forward by the congressional Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism—a scenario in which a single crop duster with a payload of anthrax could potentially “kill more Americans than died in World War II”—to demonstrate how efforts to defend against such far-fetched imaginary threats can actually play a major role in creating the real ones. Read it online at the Huffington Post website.