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Dual Use

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Submitted By ckw37
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Research altering the structure of infective viruses poses a threat to man and should be banned. This threat is defined, as “Dual use”. Although, altering the structure of viruses does have beneficial purposes it is ultimately not worth the risk and outweighed by its dangers. Dual Use is beneficial in advancing science or improving public health but is often misused for malevolent ends such as bioterrorism. Bioterrorism is not a new threat, Pathogens and micro organisms have been used as weapons for hundreds of years, dating back to the fourteenth century when Tartars threw the corpses of plague victims over the city walls of Kaffa before its siege and in the eighteenth century when British soldiers distributed blankets used by smallpox victims to Native Americans with the objective of contaminating them (SERB). This history of vile behavior in regards to bioweapons has not seemed to stop as technology advanced, some would say it has even gotten worse. When discussing the issue of bioterrorism one must keep in mind that it doesn’t mean all dual use scientists are bioterrorist, legitimate scientists typically conduct a research that is in the dual use field for positive purposes.
“Just because a research project may have dual use concerns, that doesn’t mean that it will be misused as a bioweapon or that the researchers conducting the research are bioweaponeers” (SERB).
However as research continues and advances on dual use the greater we risk-assisting bioterrorist succeed in their plans. This is because if the new research many responsible science professionals come up ends up getting in the wrong hands, the study could be a guideline on how the substance in question can be turned into an immensely dangerous weapon. Often many scientist with no intentions of creating a dangerous disease create deadlier manipulated versions of the original viruses they were working on hoping to find ways to fight against. This is what happened in the case of two lab made versions of the lethal H5N1 viruses. (Say)
In 1972 the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention was proposed, and over 160 countries have signed it. The BWC banned the use, development, production, stockpiling, acquisition, or retention of any “microbial or other biological agents, or toxins” in “quantities that have no justification for prophylactic, protective, or other peaceful purposes (SERB). “ but that still has not stopped the risk of bioterrorism. Incidents such as the 2001 anthrax attacks and the lethal H5N1 virus still happen and we put our citizens in further risk the more time we spend allowing dual use research.
Research altering the structure of infective viruses poses a threat to man and should be banned and countries should only focus on how to defend themselves and prosecute any individual or group condoning such activity so that we can slow bioterrorism and eventually bring it to a halt.

Works Cited SERB. "The Dual Use Dilemma in Biological Research." SERCEB.org. Http://www.serceb.org/dualuse.htm, n.d. Web. 09 May 2015.

Saey, Tina Hesman. "Designer Flu: How Scientists Made a Killer Virus Airborne-and Who Should Know." Science News 181.11 (2012): 20-25. Web.

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