Threat of bioterrorism very real: Study

July 26th, 2011 - 1:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, July 26 (IANS) The threat of bioterrorism is very real and cannot just be wished away, warns the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH).

Study authors pointed out that evidence around the world indicates that the “development of biological agents continues in some countries”.

“Any emerging country that is beginning to think about maintaining international trade needs to be aware of the potential for bioterrorism,” said Neville Clarke, special assistant to the Texas A&M; University System’s vice chancellor of agriculture.

The study discusses potential perpetrators and their methods, priority diseases, modern biology, trade and regulatory restraints as listed by the Paris-based WOAH, reported journal Scientific and Technical Review.

Bioterrorism actually dates back to the Middle Ages when “diseased carcasses and bodies were catapulted over enemy walls in attempts to induce sickness in humans or animals,” said Clarke, who wrote the study with Texas AgriLife Research assistant Jennifer L. Rinderknecht.

Throughout time, similar practices ensued until 1975 when more than 160 countries at the Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention agreed to prohibit biological warfare programmes, according to a Texas statement.

Clarke pointed to the live animal and fresh meat restrictions on imports from Brazil that are in place because there are still pockets of foot-and-mouth disease in that South American country.

“That impairs their ability to export to the US,” he said. “Trade restriction is one of the most important underlying issues that faces countries. That makes bioterrorism everyone’s business.”

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