Breeding Bio InsecurityHow U.S. Biodefense Is Exporting Fear, Globalizing Risk, and Making Us All Less Secure

Breeding Bio InsecurityHow U.S. Biodefense Is Exporting Fear, Globalizing Risk, and Making Us All Less Secure

Lynn C. Klotz and Edward J. Sylvester

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780226444055

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

In the years since the 9/11 attacks—and the subsequent lethal anthrax letters—the United States has spent billions of dollars on measures to defend the population against the threat of biological weapons. But as this book argues, all that money and effort hasn't made us any safer—in fact, it has made us more vulnerable. The book reveals the mistakes made to this point and lays out the necessary steps to set us on the path toward true biosecurity. The fundamental problem with the current approach, according to the book, is the danger caused by the sheer size and secrecy of our biodefense effort. Thousands of scientists spread throughout hundreds of locations are now working with lethal bioweapons agents—but their inability to make their work public causes suspicion among our enemies and allies alike, even as the enormous number of laboratories greatly multiplies the inherent risk of deadly accidents or theft. Meanwhile, vital public health needs go unmet because of this new biodefense focus. True biosecurity, the chapters argue, will require a multipronged effort based in an understanding of the complexity of the issue, guided by scientific ethics, and watched over by a vigilant citizenry attentive to the difference between fear mongering and true analysis of risk.