Biodefense: A Legal Framework Rework – When Peacetime is the Only Time

Introduction — Why? The first revelation is the unique features of bioterrorism make it particularly unmanageable in our current legal framework. Federal authorities and experts have organized these as weapons of mass destruction, earning the collective acronym, WMD; yet radiological, nuclear, and chemical threats differ significantly from bio- logical threats. Radiological, nuclear, and chemical threats are known when they occur, are spent immediately upon their attack, and have a relatively contained geographical region of impact. In marked contrast, biological threats are clandestine in their delivery, with the time of attack being unknown; the impact of a biological threat is not spent upon attack but increases exponentially in its effect on human life. The geographical region affected is limited only by the planet, facilitated by the wide use of air travel by individuals. The expertise to deal with these weapons also differs, and it is the public health community that is most critical in addressing the threat of bioterrorism. Pre- vention, too, is markedly different: criminal investigation with attendant tracking of chemicals and radiological ma- terials is required through the ports of entry and trans- portation systems. Biological materials must be tracked through medical data obtained by public health surveil- lance systems. In contrast, monitoring ports of entry and transportation systems is meaningless where much smaller quantities of biological materials than chemical and radio- logical materials can be used for a deadly attack. It is criti- cal that our infrastructure evolve to account for these unique features of bioterrorism…

Citation: Biodefense: A Legal Framework Rework – When Peacetime is the Only Time, invited article, 49 The Federal Lawyer 32-38 (October, 2002).

Texas Tech University
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Biodefense: When Technology Goes Global

Biotechnologies present critical choices for the United States in this new strategic era. These technologies contain both great promise and great risk. Genetically modified crops may provide the means to feed the world’s growing population, and new drugs may treat diseases that have plagued humans throughout the millennia. The growth of this sector may provide good jobs and profits for American workers and industry. At the same time, these technologies pose grave dangers. Their growing sophistication and availability makes possible a catastrophic biological attack by a nonstate actor—an event that could cost thousands or even tens of thousands of innocent lives.

Carol R. Kuntz
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April 16, 2012

Biodefense: Who’s In Charge?

Introduction — This article seeks to describe the current organizational structure, the role of the federal agencies in the context of biodefense and the federalism relationship with the states. The President’s proposal for a Department of Homeland Security is also examined in the context of the legal implications for biodefense, and the shift in federalism in that proposal. In conclusion, although the Congress passed legislation creating a Department of Homeland Security, the responsibility for a defense against bioterrorism remains undefined, and this article recommends a national approach to biodefense and considerations for the future are discussed.

Citation: Biodefense – Who’s In Charge?, 13 Health Matrix 117-158 (2003). Invited article. An analysis of the organization of the federal government surrounding the September 11th attacks in the context of bioterrorism, and the relationship of the federal government with the state governments.

Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention

Opened for Signature: April 10, 1972
Entered into Force: March 26, 1975
Ratified by the US: March 26, 1975

The signatories to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction, the BWC, or the BTWC, agree not to develop, produce, stockpile, or acquire biological agents outside of peaceful purposes and weapons and equipment designed to use biological agents for hostile reasons. More information on the BWC can be found at the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention Website.

Biological Attack on Agriculture: Low-Tech, High-Impact Bioterrorism

A vulnerability to bioterrorism has focused on terrorist use of pathogens to attack the civilian population. This concern increased in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon and the anthrax letter attacks on US Senate offices and the media. A number of analysts have pointed out that terrorist attacks on livestock or crops, although unlikely to cause terror, are a concern because they could be executed much more easily and could have serious economic consequences. This article will give an overview of US vulnerability to agricultural bioterrorism and biocrimes.

University of Bradford
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