By signing and ratifying the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, the United States renounced the use and possession of such offensive weapons and methods to disseminate and deliver them. Given the increased investments in biodefense research in the United States, it is imperative that the United States conduct its legitimate defensive activities in an open and transparent manner. This should clear the way for all biomedical scientists to contribute to the development of defensive measures that would mitigate the impact of the use of such weapons against people, plants, and animals. For the scientific community to be a willing partner in biodefense research, there must be trust and understanding between the scientific community and the defense, intelligence, and law enforcement branches of government.
The recent experience with anthrax dispersal in the United States made clear that there are individuals or groups in the world who will use the most horrific weapons, including pathogenic organisms, to kill innocent people for vague and unstated political goals. Added to the already existing concern about nonstate actors seeking BW capabilities, this has put bioterrorism along with biological warfare on the front burner for both the military and civilian populations. It has also meant that groups of people who had little history of working together, such as basic biomedical scientists and the FBI and CIA, must now find a way of sharing information and expertise. The nuclear physics/Department of Defense community, which grew from a relatively small group during World War II, has had a long history of participation with intelligence and defense. Biomedical science, as already discussed, has had a different history. The intelligence and law enforcement agencies need the academic scientists both for the expertise they might provide about the nature of current agents and the potential for new ones and for the best advice on limiting the spread of new technologies that would make countermeasures even more difficult. It might be desirable for components of the national security and law enforcement communities to establish advisory boards of basic scientists and clinicians with expertise in specializations such as viral disease, bacterial pathogens, biotechnology, immunology, toxins, and public health, as well as others in the area of basic molecular biology. These advisory boards could help members of
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