Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share on Reddit Tell A Friend Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite View Favorites
OpEdNews Op Eds

"Want to Hear Something Really Scary? Zombies Are Real".Or at Least Could Be

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message James Lewis       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   No comments

Related Topic(s): ; ; ; , Add Tags
Add to My Group(s)

View Ratings | Rate It

Author 57859
Become a Fan
  (1 fan)
- Advertisement -

In September, just a few weeks before Halloween, Paul W. S. Anderson released the fifth installment of the Resident Evil story. The film finds the heroine, Alice, needing to escape from the Umbrella Corporation, an evil pharmaceutical company plotting world domination. Eventually, the story ends with Alice and her team fighting to save the human race from extinction in a wasteland filled with superhuman zombies and undead dogs.

   The idea of a globe haunted by undead creatures grossed the movie more than $21 million in its opening weekend.   Something about the idea of zombies terrifies us and also makes us want to spend $15 for a movie ticket. But, what if the threat of human extinction from a manufactured disease was real?

   While zombies remain part of myth -- we hope -- the threat of human extinction from disease is very real.

   Since 1925, the international community has deemed biological weapons too horrible to use and outlawed them, even in warfare.   In 1970, President Nixon officially ended the U.S.'s offensive biological weapons program and in 1972, many countries signed the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) agreeing not to use, retain or produce the weapons that could harm great numbers of people. Since then, 178 countries have signed or joined the regime.   Nineteen remain outside the framework.

- Advertisement -

   Despite the nightmare scenario if these weapons are used and nearly four decades of global sentiment against bio-weapons, BWC signatories have been known to cheat, most notably, the Soviet Union. After signing the BWC, the Soviet Union continued to develop biological weapons under the fa├žade of a domestic pharmaceutical program and eventually weaponized plague; smallpox; Marburg, a deadly hemorrhagic fever; Q fever and others, according to Dr. Kenneth Alibek, chief scientist and first deputy director of Biopreparat, a branch of the Soviet's biological weapons program.

   Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the Soviet program appears to have ceased. However, nations are still suspected of harboring a desire to produce these weapons. Perhaps the most haunting point is that despite nearly a century of universal abhorrence, there is no way to catch cheaters pursuing weapons with the capacity to kill thousands or more.

   Verification is needed because an offensive program can look nearly identical to biodefense, biotechnology or other research programs.   The same equipment, samples and protocols used to create weapons are also used to conduct life-saving biomedical research.

- Advertisement -

   There are hundreds of college and pharmaceutical labs. A lab studying ways to prevent parasite transmission in the developing world could easily mask a program to turn that parasite into a weapon.

   The creation of a verification program would need transparency, as well as a strong global commitment to intellectual property rights. Establishing a working verification program could be model on existing nuclear weapons verification program with scheduled and surprise inspections.

Once established, standards of action within research would need to be harmonized internationally yet offer exceptions for those projects that promise amazing breakthroughs. These excepted programs working to develop prevention and cures for deadly disease like Ebola, cholera or malaria would be subjected to greater scrutiny since their offer a potential high-return in terms of scientific advance but high-risk in terms of dual-use and offensive capacity.

   Sadly, the danger of biological weapons does not end with potentially rational actors. The 2001 anthrax letters and 1984 The Dalles, Oregon salad bar poisonings have displayed a need for an international verification regime that limits the access to dangerous disease-causing microbes by organizations and individuals seeking only terror.

   The Resident Evil films and video games, along with the T virus-infected world they created have been a driving force in American science fiction sub-culture since 1996. It's time the true Halloween-horror of biological weapons drive the verification protocol that's been lacking since 1970.

Jules Zacher obtained is JD from Temple University; he is a Board Member for the Council for Livable World, an organization working limit weapons of mass destruction. James Lewis manages the biological and chemical weapons portfolio for the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation.

- Advertisement -


- Advertisement -

View Ratings | Rate It

James Lewis is a former Senior Policy/National Security Analyst at the Washington-based think-tank, Robert Weiner Associates. He has also worked for Student Conservation Association as a Crew Leader engaging low-income urban students in a summer (more...)

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon Share Author on Social Media   Go To Commenting

The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Follow Me on Twitter

Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

"Want to Hear Something Really Scary? Zombies Are Real".Or at Least Could Be

Don't Sell Out Pell Grants

Military's Alternative Energy Investment Is Good for Local Economies

Does the New UN Treaty Mean I'll Lose My Gun?

HB 56 Hurts Alabama's Economy More than it Helps

Accessible Treatment: A Strategy for Addressing America's Opioid Epidemic