The biological and toxin weapons convention - an analysis

August 17, 2001

BioMed Central publishes Malcolm Dando and Simon Whitby's analysis of the Biological and Toxin Weapon Convention and the responsibilities faced by the biomedical community during the verification procedure. This article coincides with the conclusion of the talks taking place in Geneva this week.

The refusal of the US to sign the renegotiation of the Biological and Toxin Weapon Convention looks set to result in the failure of the final round of talks. Failure to find an agreement could lead to many years of renegotiations, during which time biomedicine is reaping the rewards of the genomic revolution. The absence of firm guidelines on biological weapons could result in rogue states developing new biological weapons.

Dando and Whitby identify several areas of biological research that could be exploited to be used as weapons, these include: the production of venom toxins in genetically modified bacteria, creating antibiotic resistant 'superbugs', producing microbes that can not be detected using current diagnostic tests.

The authors recognise the importance of an international prohibition regime, which they believe could be strengthened by sharing information on the peaceful use of biomedical technologies. This kind of international cooperation may encourage developing countries to join the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention helping to create an international environment that is hostile to the proliferation of biological weapons.

BioMed Central

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