Frank Fiore – Novelist & Screenwriter

April 6, 2010

Genetic Warfare Nearing Reality?

Filed under: CyberKill — Frank Fiore @ 8:53 AM

As the we near the release of CyberKill by Trapdoor Books, I will be posting current news items, blog posts, articles and opinions and predictions on topics covered in the novel.

CyberKill explores the reality of a genetic weapon.  It was a stretch for the story but now it seems that it wasn’t much of a stretch at all.

Deep in the bowels of the Internet I found these news items.

Israel is working on an “ethnically targeted” biological weapon that would kill or harm Arabs but not Jews, according to Israeli military and western intelligence sources cited in a front-page report in the London Sunday Times, November 15, 1998.

In developing this “ethno-bomb,” the British paper went on, Israeli scientists are trying to exploit medical advances by identifying distinctive genes carried by some Arabs, and then create a genetically modified bacterium or virus. The goal is to use the ability of viruses and certain bacteria to alter the DNA inside the host’s living cells. The scientists are trying to engineer deadly microorganisms that attack only those bearing the distinctive genes.

Wow!! Straight out of Cyberkill.

The secret Israel program is based at the Institute for Biological Research in Nes Tsiona, a small town southeast of Tel Aviv, the main research facility for Israel’s clandestine arsenal of chemical and biological weapons.

A scientist there said the task is very complicated because both Arabs and Jews are of Semitic origin. But he added: “They have, however, succeeded in pinpointing a particular characteristic in the genetic profile of certain Arab communities, particularly the Iraqi people.” Diseases could be spread by spraying organisms into the air or putting them in water supplies.

Or perhaps, like in CyberKill, nano-dust?

The “ethnic bomb” claims have been given further credence in Foreign Report, an authoritative Jane’s publication that closely monitors security and military matters. It cites unnamed South African sources as saying that Israeli scientists, in trying to develop an “ethnic bullet” against Arabs, have made use of similar biological studies conducted by South African scientists during the Apartheid era (and later revealed in testimony before that country’s “Truth and Reconciliation Commission”). Foreign Report also says that Israelis have gained insights into the Arab genetic make-up by conducting research on “Jews of Arab origin, especially Iraqis.”

In another story, Genetic weapons: a 21st-century nightmare? – The spectre of new biological weapons made possible by the mapping of the human genome makes it more urgent than ever to prevent biotechnology research from being hijacked for evil purposes.

Scientists have warned that recent advances in biological research could eventually lead to the creation of a new type of biological arsenal capable of targeting a specific group of human beings with common genetic characteristics, as may be the case with certain ethnic groups.

“It will unfortunately be possible to design biological weapons of this type when more information on genome research is available,” says Dr Vivienne Nathanson, head of science and health policy at the British Medical Association (BMA), the body which represents the medical profession in the United Kingdom.

This terrifying prospect may be an unwelcome piece of spin-off from research being carried out under the Human Genome Project, an international scientific effort to map and sequence the genes in the human body and find out more about human DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), the molecule which provides the biological instructions to make a human being.

Gee! And I thought I was ahead of the curve with my scientific speculation in CyberKill. Fiction does have a way of becoming reality.

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