02 March 2004 10:56|
The Mark of Doom
In the not-so-distant future, a new kind of weapon could appear that would change the balance of political power in the world. This main principle behind this weapon: seek and destroy according to genetics.
American scientists have declared that in ten years they will succeed in creating a radically new type of biological weapon. This weapon would be capable of infecting people according to a genetically predetermined marker such as skin color or eye shape. Infection could have a delayed effect or only begin once a certain type of medicine was taken. A recent closed seminar held by the CIA was devoted to the topic. The event took place as part of the Project for the New American Century.
A slow sickness
Scientists have been exploring the possibilities of selective biological weapons for some time now. This is roughly how these weapons would work. Genetic information is implanted into bacteria’s “programming,” reflecting the gene structure or gene combination of a certain targeted group of people. Once the programmed bacteria enter someone’s system, they “recognize” their target and kill the person. If the genetic structure of the infected person does not correspond, the microbe dies without harming him.
Even specialists will have a hard time differentiating bacterial ethnic cleansing from a regular epidemic, if only because the countries leading the development of these weapons could purposefully misinform the public. There will be few direct clues.
Another difficulty is that this weapon could have a delayed effect. It could be turned on by a trigger mechanism, meaning it could target not only specific people but also people under very specific conditions. This means that illness could be delayed not just by days but for an indefinite period of time. Yet the moment the infected person, say, comes down with strep throat and takes antibiotics, the bacteria begin to multiply, leading to a severe illness that eludes diagnosis.
“It is already possible today to create antibiotic resistant cultures,” Alexander Prozorov, a professor in the microorganism genetics lab at the Russian Academy of Science Institute for General Genetics, told Expert. The most striking examples of this type of culture are streptomycin-dependent bacteria that only grow in the presence of the antibiotic streptomycin. This will make it hard for doctors to do much, as traditional pharmaceuticals won’t help. On the contrary, treatment will only make the patient sicker.
Yet the most terrifying new possibility is the hypothetical biological weapon that could infect people according to genetic markers. Not only would it allow for genocide; it would be created specifically for that purpose. A recent report by the British Medical Association stated that “the rapid progress in genetics could become the basis for ethnic cleansing on an unheard of scale in the near future.”
Three years ago, ideologues like US Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and PNAC Director William Crystal were already discussing genetic weapons. They recommended that the Pentagon consider the possibility for using this type of weapon not only to successfully wage war, but also to reconfigure world politics. According to a PNAC report, genetic weapons could completely change the politics of the entire planet: “cutting-edge biological warfare targeting a certain genotype could turn the reign of terrorism into a politically useful tool.”
According to information from PNAC, Israel has also recently begun to work actively on mutagenic weapons. Israel geneticists confirm that Arabs carry a unique gene that no one else in the world has. This gene forms the basis for the Israeli research, believe American experts.
Things look far more frightening, in fact. Genetic weapons could do more than destroy an ethnic group. They could kill according to a person’s “usefulness” or “talents.” American journalist and bestselling author Thom Hartmann has argued that it would even be possible to kill those with the gene for attention deficit disorder. This means that if you are easily distracted and have a hard time concentrating (there could be other selection criteria as well), you could end up marked for destruction.
We will survive
Fortunately, it is not as easy to create a selective biological weapon as some scientists are claiming. Though it may be possible to create bacteria that multiple only when a person takes a specific medication, the creation of an effective genetic weapon that would not harm the developers themselves seems unrealistic in the foreseeable future.
“It is hard to imagine how a microbe would determine the presence or absence of a certain gene or its structure. Even a researcher armed with the last word in scientific technology has a hard time doing this. It would impossible for bacteria to accomplish such a task,” believes Prozorov.
And so on. Even if bacteria could learn how to identify specific genes, how would this information be transformed into infection? That bacteria multiply in the presence of certain antibiotics is clear, but how would information about eye and hair color turn into certain doom for the world’s blue-eyed blonds? For this kind of weapon to become a reality, its creators would have to stuff the bacteria with a powerful “computer” to identify genes and at the same time arm them with the means to begin an infection.
There is one more reason why this kind of biological weapon is unlikely to be as effective as the ideologues would wish. As Nazi doctor Josef Mengele put it, “Scratch a Frenchman and find an African.” Humanity has existed for many millennia. In the context of all our past tribal and intertribal connections, it is not far from the truth to say that we are all brothers. “Over the many years of human existence, ethnics groups have intermingled to such an extent that the genetic structures determining ethnic identity have blurred and become difficult to recognize,” notes Prozorov.
Read also the interview with Sergei Netesov, Deputy General Director of the Vektor Novosibirsk State Research Center for Bioengineering and Virology "Politically Desireable, Genetically Unviable"
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