biological warfare


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Financial, Acronyms, Wikipedia.
Related to biological warfare: Chemical and Biological Warfare

biological warfare,

employment in war of microorganisms to injure or destroy people, animals, or crops; also called germ or bacteriological warfare. Limited attempts have been made in the past to spread disease among the enemy; e.g., military leaders in the French and Indian WarsFrench and Indian Wars,
1689–1763, the name given by American historians to the North American colonial wars between Great Britain and France in the late 17th and the 18th cent.
..... Click the link for more information.
 tried to spread smallpox among the Native Americans. Biological warfare has scarcely been used in modern times and was prohibited by the 1925 Geneva Convention. However, many nations in the 20th cent. have conducted research to develop suitable military microorganisms, including strains of smallpox, anthrax, plague, and some nonlethal agents. Such microorganisms can be delivered by animals (especially rodents or insects) or by aerosol packages, built into artillery shells or the warheads of ground-to-ground or air-to-ground missiles and released into the atmosphere to infect by inhalation.

In 1972 the United States and the Soviet Union adopted an agreement, endorsed by the UN General Assembly and now ratified by more than 140 nations, to destroy existing stockpiles of biological weapons and refrain from developing or stockpiling new biological weapons. The treaty does allow research for defensive purposes, such as to develop antidotes to biological weapons. After the fall of the Soviet Union, however, it was disclosed that the Soviets had secretly increased research and production of a wide variety of deadly biological agents. Although Russian president Boris Yeltsin publicly ordered (1992) the abandonment of germ warfare, some expressed suspicion about the continued production of biological weapons in post–cold war Russia.

With the rise of extremist groups and the disintegration of the established international political order in the late 20th cent., biological weapons again began to be perceived as a serious threat. In the 1990s, after the Persian Gulf WarPersian Gulf Wars,
two conflicts involving Iraq and U.S.-led coalitions in the late 20th and early 21st cent.

The First Persian Gulf War, also known as the Gulf War, Jan.–Feb.
..... Click the link for more information.
, five hidden germ-warfare laboratories and stockpiles of anthrax, botulism, and gas gangrene bacteria were discovered in Iraq. In addition to Iraq and Russia, North Korea, Iran, Egypt, Israel, China, and other nations are suspected of various violations of the 1972 agreement.

In 2001, shortly after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, anthrax was sent through the mail in bioterrorist attacks against several locations in the United States. There was, however, no clear connection between the two terror attacks. In an attempt to develop a warning system for a bioterror attack, the Environmental Protection Agency's air quality monitoring system was adapted (2003) to permit detection of an outdoor release of smallpox and other pathogens. Such a system, however, would not have detected the narrowly focused indoor anthrax attacks of 2001.

See also chemical warfarechemical warfare,
employment in war of incendiaries, poison gases, and other chemical substances. Ancient armies attacking or defending fortified cities threw burning oil and fireballs. A primitive type of flamethrower was employed as early as the 5th cent. B.C.
..... Click the link for more information.
.

Bibliography

See study by J. Miller et al. (2001).

biological warfare

[¦bī·ə¦läj·ə·kəl ′wȯr‚fer]
(ordnance)
Abbreviated BW.
Employment of living microorganisms, toxic biological products, and plant growth regulators to produce death or injury in humans, animals, or plants.
Defense against such action.
References in periodicals archive ?
There are numerous fielded and developmental detectors for biological warfare agents.
The Japanese started their biological warfare efforts in the 1930s during their occupation of Manchuria and later during their invasion of China.
Identify and describe the most important agents that have been developed or used in biological warfare.
from Salt Lake City, Utah, stepped forward with JBAIDS, the latest in biological warfare technology.
The use of biological warfare became more sophisticated during the 19th century.
Ricin has long featured in the history of biological warfare.
The US government was funding scientists to research biological warfare technology and it was going out all over the country, indeed, around the world.
In view of this increasing polarization and the reliance of the United States on military power as the basis of security, it is vital to reassess Western policies on biological warfare in context: the legacy of the vast biological weapons program pursued by the Soviet Union; the Middle East as a crucible of conflict over which looms weapons of mass destruction; the dramatic expansion of U.
Simulation Technologies Incorporated, Beavercreek, Ohio, is being awarded a $30,000,000 indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract to provide for Joint Services and Air Force Chemical and Biological Warfare Defense science and technology to provide an effective defense against any adversary employing weapons of mass destruction.
Abu Ghurayb, Project 600: ``Baby milk factory'' which never produced milk - suspected to be biological warfare facility.
The new quarterly focuses on the health care management of issues associated with natural or man--made disasters, including weapons of mass destruction, hurricanes, biological warfare, and other public health emergencies.
the leading developer of nanoarray biomolecular analysis systems, has been awarded a Phase I SBIR/NIH/NIAID grant for developing an ultra-sensitive, ultra- miniaturized biological warfare agent detection system using the BioForce NanoArray(TM) technology.