biological warfare

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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.
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 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.
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, 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.
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.

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 ?
On the other hand, analysts will find some solace in the fact that neither Al Qaeda nor any other terrorist group has successfully manufactured and deployed biological weapons to lethal effect.
Working in the Office of Biological Weapons Affairs allows you to pursue almost any interest," he said.
9) Successful measures to combat bioterrorism should include attempts to identify covert biological weapons activities and to interdict those activities as well as transnational movements of deadly pathogens.
25) A few examples of biological weapons include tularemia, anthrax, Q fever, epidemic typhus, smallpox, brucellosis, VEE, botulinum toxin, dengue fever, Russian spring-summer encephalitis, Lassa fever, Marburg, and Ebola.
The ISIL Takfiri militants executed head of the physics department at Mosul University because he refrained from cooperating with them in developing biological weapons," the Arabic-language Al-Sumeriya news website quoted a local source in Nineveh province as saying at the time.
Within it, non-kinetic weapon systems, like gas and biological weapons, struggle for recognition.
Furthermore, the authors offer an ongoing analysis about why the Soviet Union committed to a biological weapons program even though the United States proclaimed in 1969 to have ended its own program.
Hitler repeatedly and strictly ordered that biological weapons should not be used, even for defensive purposes," Reinhardt told Smithsonian.
Biological weapons experts from a number of UN Member States and organizations gather today in Copenhagen for a two-day international tabletop exercise hosted by Denmark.
That is not the case with the arguably more dangerous biological weapons being developed by the nexus of Iran, Syria and North Korea.
Geneva, Muharram 26, 1434, Dec 10, 2012, SPA -- States Parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of Biological Weapons and on Their Destruction, which usually referred to as Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), held a meeting here today.
Biological Weapons Convention will meet in Geneva from December 5-22 for the

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