“The power of biological weapons is ten times more than nuclear power. Unless we act fast with an open mind, any one of them can make extinct the human race.”
― Amit Ray, Nuclear Weapons Free World Peace on the Earth
A “bio-weapon” denotes a contagious infectious agent like bacteria, viruses, insects, and fungi. The biological toxin can be used with the intent to kill or undermine humans, livestock or crops as an act of war. The sicknesses elicited by the germ wars utilizing biological weapons know no boundaries and can spread rapidly around the world.
Biological weapons can lead to dreadful outcomes and can be a threat to human civilization. The use of bio-weapons is not new as, since centuries, human beings are in danger from various kind of germ wars. On reviewing the historical literature, it’s evident that biological warfare epochs back to the ancient times, when the offenders tried to poison and spread the infection among the opponents, infect cattle and horses or spread contagion through civilian populations.
Dating back to 1952, the Geneva Protocol under the patronages of the League of Nations was the first step towards comprehensive banning of the use of chemical and biological weapons in international armed encounters. Despite all that, more than 500 million humans have died of infectious diseases during the 19th century. Several of those epidemics were due to the intentional release of pathogens or toxins. Like during the Second World War, Japan threatened the peace of China by contaminating air, water and food supplies in about eleven Chinese cities to study cholera and typhus outbreaks.
The Soviet Union, as well as the United States (US) and its associates also built massive hordes of biological weapons for mass destruction. In 1863, the Allies sold clothing from yellow fever and smallpox patients to Union troops of the US. Later on, the US ended its biological weapons programme in 1969 by an autonomous decision of President Nixon. He converted the facilities and workers to nonviolent biomedical and biodefence research units, and the US allies also followed the rule.
The Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) of 1972, act as a cornerstone, commendably outlawed the growing, transferal, storing, and usage of bio-weapons. However, bio-weapons programs can be cloaked easily as the BWC has no well-defined regulations for confining or reporting the impending bio wars. Consequently, many countries are being alleged of making biological warfare agents. As a result, a few modern defence agencies have prepared defensive measures, including protective garments and masks, sterilizing agents and vaccines to combat viral contagions.
Despite being considered as of natural origin, the 2014-16 Ebola epidemic in West Africa unveiled the surplus readiness and flaws in the global health system to retort the massive outbreaks. It also raised the alarm of the magnitude of disasters that could happen as a result of illicit use of biological toxins by the peace breakers.
“We can’t go on much longer morally. We can’t go on much longer scientifically. The technology that was supposed to save us is ready to destroy us. New weapons are being made all the time, including chemical and biological weapons. Today the only bright spot on the horizon of this world is the promise of the coming again of Christ.”
― Billy Graham
Currently, the advancements in the nuclear and secreted biotechnology are taking place at much-accelerating pace. With the advances and the effects of globalization, the magnitude of causalities would be unbelievable if the technology works against humanity. In late 2019, the Coronavirus pandemic emerged from Wuhan city of China and astounded the public health system of the most advanced countries, including the US and Europe. The virus has taken away the lives of 1,196,690 people worldwide till date. The numbers of afflicted and deceased cases are still piling up as a result of the ongoing second wave in many countries around the world. A viral pandemic does not distinguish between the high and low socioeconomic country, though with some geographical variances across the globe.
There is little evidence to be sure whether Corona outbreak is a natural incidence or a bio war, or negligence or an inadvertent release of virus from some research lab. However, it is believed that a pandemic is a divine way to teach and warn the manhood about the exploitation of nature and the disastrous results of greed, and love for gaining power.
We need to be thoughtful about combating the emerging threats of germ wars intimidating human civilization. There should be international organizations, constituting leaders irrespective of political and geographical differences, who should monitor the new drifts in science and technology of the developed countries. The advancement in biotechnology is a two-edged sword. It should have been a silent effort to deter only the bioweapons and should not create obstacles in the pathway of the sensitive public health-related research programs.
“Any weapon is a biological weapon if it saves your life.”
― John Alejandro King. The Covert Comic
The article has been co-authored by Dr Sultan Mehmood Khan and Dr. Aitzaz Bin Sultan Rai.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Dunya News’ editorial stance.