Thursday, March 11, 2010

National Security, One Microbe at a Time

National Security, One Microbe at a Time


We’ve entered an era where security threats can be hidden in a microorganism and pandemics can be mitigated from a laboratory. Biotechnology means new dangers, whether to personal health, international relations or in combat - but the same technology can also offer new solutions.

World Politics Review has assembled a series of features on national security in the bio-era. Josh Michaud evaluates the recent cooperation among public health officials grappling to contain H1N1. At first glance, the international community did a bang-up job - but emerging diseases are still an ongoing global threat, and the 193 member countries of the World Health Organization haven’t mastered the necessary response. Then there’s bio-terrorism, a security threat that’s killed five Americans in the last 109 years. Milton Leitenberg examines how the U.S. government’s multi-billion dollar response to bio-threats - whether real or imagined - has only worsened our risk.

Of course, the military is also playing a major role in the scientific approach to national security, with Darpa leading the way. The Pentagon’s way-out research arm has been funding soldier enhancement programs for decades. Now, they’re harnessing new technology to bring members of the armed forces into the 21st century, cell by cell, from pre-deployment training to post-war reintegration. Check out my story, where I run down current Darpa projects, and the agency’s way-off possibilities, all designed to optimize tomorrow’s troops.


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