Related News

Home » World

Terrorists may access biotechnology - scientists

RAPID advances in biotechnology are making it easier to develop and produce deadly organisms, sparking calls by experts for better industry oversight to stop that progress benefiting criminals and terrorists.

Hundreds of research laboratories are springing up around the world as costs and development times tumble and scientists compete to create products with commercial potential for medicine or food production.

In 2002 it took five years to develop the genomic sequence of a polio virus. Three years later it took a week for a team the same size to do the same on a similar-sized virus.

Such rapid progress has left policy makers wondering how to ensure security in a disparate, thinly regulated industry - a concern that surfaced at a weekend conference in Morocco where experts considered the threat of pandemics and major biological incidents in the Middle East and North Africa.

"There are so many advances in bacteriology and gene sequencing leading to the possibility of designing genes - that is what is driving the concern," said Tim Trevan of the International Council for the Life Sciences.

ICLS President Terence Taylor pointed to documents recovered from al-Qaeda which had showed the group was considering developing biological weapons.

"If there is a serious, catastrophic incident involving the use of biotechnology, that will hold up the science like Chernobyl did with nuclear," said Taylor. "That's why we need to worry now."

Nuclear technology remains mostly in the hands of governments and state enterprises but advanced biotechnology is already seeping into the consumer mainstream.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend