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However, as opposition of US involvement in Vietnam grew, increasing pressure was put on the US president to ban the development and use of biological/chemical weapons. As a sign of good faith, President Nixon along with Russia’s leader and other world leaders attended the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention in 1972 and agreed to end biological warfare as a military offensive tactic. Unfortunately, there was no compliance assurance or enforcement associated with this treaty. While the US simply renamed its research program to reflect defensive purposes rather than offensive purposes, Russia founded Biopreparat. With an annual budget of up to $1 billion, Russian scientists soon realized the promise of genetic engineering (Alibek 1999).

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Biological warfare essays Blast Force The Invisible War on the Brain. Ain trauma from blast force is the signature injury of the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns, afflicting hundreds of.

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During the mid to late 1980’s, Russian scientists at Biopreparat made a major breakthrough. They had begun to upgrade their arsenal of biological weapons via genetic modification. One of the first steps of such modifications included making a primitive sort of chimera. A chimera is a biological organism which has been altered so that the ‘new version’ also has characteristics of another biological organism. Russian scientists were experimenting with the idea of taking Y. pestis and inserting various other known toxins into the cells. One day, the announcement was made at Biopreparat that such a design had been successfully made. They inserted a plasmid containing the gene for myelin toxin into Y. pestis . The design was simple and disturbing. If a patient were diagnosed with pneumonic plague in time to be treated, the antibiotics would attack and lyse the plague cells, thereby releasing the plasmid coding for myelin toxin which would cause paralysis, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, and changes in behavior. Heralded as a major triumph for Mother Russia, Alibek explained, “A toxin-plague weapon was never produced before the Soviet Union collapsed, but the success of this experiment set the stage for further research on bacteria-toxin combinations.” (Alibek 1999).

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The earliest recorded use of Y. pestis as a biological weapon occurred in the 14thcentury when a Tartar army, in an attempt to conquer conquered Kaffa (in current day Crimea), reportedly catapulted victims of plague over gated walls (Cartwright 1972). Centuries later, the world would witness attempts of Japan’s Unit 731 to harbor plague as a biological weapon as well. In 1940, Japanese General Ishii Shiro led the campaign to drop porcelain bombs filled with plague infected fleas over central China’s Hunan province. The Chinese government reports 7,643 people died as a result (Harbin and Kattoulas 2002). Other modes of possible transmission of plague included flea-ridden feathers as well as briefcases and pens which would aerosolize Y. pestis . When brought to trial for war crimes, senior officials of Unit 731 were released by the US in exchange for information. The US capitalized on this information and gave birth to the US Biological Weapons Program at Ft. Detrick, MD.

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Most of our knowledge of research in which Yersinia pestis is utilized as a biological warfare agent is outdated. Defectors from Russia debriefed the US in the mid 1990’s. Public knowledge of plague research supported by the US is largely based on activities prior to 1972. The potential of a “super” plague attack is high. Should an attack occur, the US government has ample room for improvement in its ability to respond. In the meantime, it is essential that the people of the US become informed about the possibility of an attack, how to recognize signs that such an attack has occurred, and about what to do if one should occur.

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After decades of researching and modifying Y. pestis for biological warfare, why have we not seen more of its use in war? One contributing factor is lack of control. The four corners of the earth are not as far away as they used to be. We live in an age of international connectedness. Infected raspberries from Guatemala resulted in a 1996 outbreak of Streptococcus in the US. Numerous reports have been cited of infected migrant workers from Mexico transferring intestinal parasites to cows and sheep while working on American ranches. Attempts to keep mad cow disease outside of the US have failed. The high mobility of people and products of today’s world ensures what goes around comes around.