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Death in a Pot

Death in a Pot

Whether biohackers are dangerous to the USA? - The Wall Street Journal asks a question. As the journalist Jin Wallen explains, it is a question of geneticists - amateurs who try at home to create new strain of bacteria and viruses.


"23-year-old Katherine Aull from Massachusetts plants genetically modified intestinal sticks, the DJ from California cultivates at home under the leads viruses which he rescues from the water drain", - the edition informs. Some buy samples of DNA in Internet shops and try to find on this basis remedies or to create new biofuel. For example, Aull bought on eBay thermocycler for 59 dollars and made an incubator from foam plastic box to which she attached the terrarium heater. Shortly after Aull told about her hobby in network she was called from Monitor 360 company which specialises on geostrategic researches and informed: "Our clients are interested in the states-derelicts. They wish to know, whether it is necessary to be anxious because of biohackers". In other words, if to trust representatives of the company, certain department of the USA engaged in providing biological safety is afraid that devices and methods of geneticists - amateurs can be used for creation of dangerous pathogenic organisms.

In 2007 the group of scientists and employees of FBI urged to tighten control over so-called synthetic DNA - component which is widely used by professional biologists as well as laymen, the edition marks. The matter is that genomes of dangerous viruses like Ebola fever or smallpox are accessible on the Internet. From her part, Aull assures that fears are exaggerated. "Geneticists - amateurs try to make a slingshot, - she says, - and people groans: "what could happen, when they turn their attention to nuclear weapon?". Other biohackers note that Mother Nature creates dangerous new pathogenic forms without their help.

"While the majority of geneticists - amateurs who are engaged in synthetic DNA simply add one-two genes to the existing live organism. But the technology opens the prospect of creation of the whole organisms from zero and it is more disturbing", - the author writes noticing that it's already professional scientists who are engaged in formation of such new forms of life. Some biologists recommend to enter licensing of all works with synthetic DNA even if they are carried out by nonspecialists, the edition marks.

From edition: It seems that the greatest danger is being represented by strains with which experts from the state closed-type laboratories work, rather than the ones which biologists-amateurs are capable to create. Certainly, having seen enough Hollywood horror films is possible to imagine how some mad scientist creates mortally dangerous virus which will kill all mankind by chance at his cabinet under the leads. It can happen only in film.

Nevertheless, we wrote not once that with development of technologies and especially with the growth of introduction of new technologies into everyday life, i.e. with the growth of their availability sooner or later nuclear weapon will be available not only for separate countries in mass order but also for some non-governmental organizations. Actually, mechanism of a nuclear bomb is not a secret for any student - there's a problem only in getting of necessary quantity of fission substance, the device for nuclear "fuse" and delivery means. Nowadays all these things are extremely expensive and labour-consuming, so assemblage of nuclear explosive in municipal kitchen does not threaten us yet. For the time.

There can come an unpleasant day when some "Liberation army" declares that it has nuclear technologies and for descriptive reasons will blow up some small town. At least, it seems that it could happen soon and time goes quickly.

It is quite natural that for organizations which are assumed to name terrorist such source of possibilities as biological or chemical weapon is a very perspective direction of work as (at least when it's a question of biological weapon) it does not demand large monetary investments. Practically it demands nothing including delivery systems as live people could serve instead.

The structure of a modern city civilization represents almost ideal field for distribution of various infections.

Perhaps, the only problem is that there is no certain guarantee that in some valley Swat biological warfare centre will work. Really till now even in industrial laboratory conditions it was not possible to create anything which will for 100% quarantee killing of weights of people. That is successes of the state nuclear programs can become inspiring for non-state organizations, while fortunately for now there are no such examples in the field of biological warfare.

Though, as it has been already told, everything's in the progress...

Аnatoly Baranov

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