Biodefense for the 21st Century
EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT WASHINGTON DC OFFICE OF HOMELAND SECURITY
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Biological weapons in the possession of hostile states or terrorists pose unique and grave threats to the safety and security of the United States and our allies. Biological weapons attacks could cause catastrophic harm. They could inflict widespread injury and result in massive casualties and economic disruption. Bioterror attacks could mimic naturally-occurring disease, potentially delaying recognition of an attack and creating uncertainty about whether one has even occurred. An attacker may thus believe that he could escape identification and capture or retaliation. Biological weapons attacks could be mounted either inside or outside the United States and, because some biological weapons agents are contagious, the effects of an initial attack could spread widely. Disease outbreaks, whether natural or deliberate, respect no geographic or political borders. Preventing and controlling future biological weapons threats will be even more challenging. Advances in biotechnology and life sciences -- including the spread of expertise to create modified or novel organisms -- present the prospect of new toxins, live agents, and bioregulators that would require new detection methods, preventive measures, and treatments. These trends increase the risk for surprise. Anticipating such threats through intelligence efforts is made more difficult by the dual-use nature of biological technologies and infrastructure, and the likelihood that adversaries will use denial and deception to conceal their illicit activities. The stakes could not be higher for our Nation. Attacks with biological weapons could Cause catastrophic numbers of acute casualties, long-term disease and disability, psychological trauma, and mass panic Disrupt critical sectors of our economy and the day-to-day lives of Americans and Create cascading international effects by disrupting and damaging international trade relationships, potentially globalizing the impacts of an attack on United States soil.
- Civil Defense
- Chemical, Biological and Radiological Warfare