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FEATURE ARTICLE

The Growing Threat of Biological Weapons

The terrorist threat is very real, and it's about to get worse. Scientists should concern themselves before it's too late

Steven Block

Figure 1. Biohazard suitsClick to Enlarge Image For the past 50 years or so the world has lived under the shadow of atomic weapons, threatening a "nuclear nightmare" that would bomb us back to the Stone Age. The recent revolution in molecular biology may have incidentally unleashed a new threat to a peaceful night's sleep with "living nightmares": genetically modified viruses and microorganisms that could be used to develop new biological weapons. It's a danger that author Steven Block thinks will get much worse, unless biologists take an active stand against bioweapons—much as their colleagues in the physical sciences took a forceful stand against nuclear weapons. Block sets his argument in the context of how bioweapons have been used in the past and considers the chilling prospects for the future.


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