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Dark Side of Delivery: The Growing Threat of Bioweapon Dissemination by Drones

By Joseph DeFrancoJames Giordano

Drones represent a new challenge for the counter-terror and counter-biological weapons community. They can be deployed to delivery and disseminate biological and chemical materials in acts of agricultural terrorism; recent incidents involving gangs in China demonstrate the viability of this method. The following article explores this issue in more detail and considers what steps need to be taken to bring this international challenge to light.

Biological weapons (BW) are essentially comprised of (1) a weaponized agent (e.g., a microbe, toxin, or device), and (2) a mechanism/system for delivery and/or dissemination. While several technologically advanced countries (e.g., the U.S., China, Russia) have industrialized BW programs, BW production and delivery have remained challenging for rogue developing nations and non-state actors.

However, the advent of extant and emerging enabling technologies could make BW production and dissemination easier and faster. Exemplary of such facilitated means of production is the use of gene-editing tools and techniques such as CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats)…

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