A panel of U.S. scientists has warned that advances in genetic engineering could lead to the creation of “designer” biological weapons, according to a CIA report described by Agence France-Presse today (see GSN, Oct. 27).
The report, dated Nov. 3, describes a closed seminar held by the National Academy of Sciences at the agency’s request, according to AFP. During the seminar, scientists warned that new biological weapons could include binary agents that would consist of two separate and harmless agents that would become deadly when combined, the report says. They also warned of agents that could become harmful when combined with a typical treatment, such as a virus designed to cause flu-like symptoms and then turn deadly when the infected person takes aspirin.
The scientific panel also warned of a “stealth” virus that could lie dormant in the infected for long periods of time and of engineered biological agents that could resist antibiotics, according to the CIA report.
“The resulting diversity of new BW agents could enable such a broad range of attack scenarios that it would be virtually impossible to anticipate and defend against,” the report says (Maxim Kniazkov, Agence France-Presse/News.com (Australia), Nov. 17).