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 Lynn C. Klotz and Edward J. Sylvester argue forcefully in Breeding Bio Insecurity, all that money and effort hasn’t made us any safer—in fact, it has made us more vulnerable.
Breeding Bio Insecurity 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 authors, 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 authors 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.
An impassioned warning that never loses sight of political and scientific reality, Breeding Bio Insecurity is a crucial first step toward meeting the evolving threats of the twenty-first century.
"The authors make a plausible and disturbing case, arguing for a reduction in the number of laboratories that are allowed to handle the most dangerous organisms, far more oversight and transparency, and greater international cooperation."—Foreign Affairs