Two US lawmakers warned this week of biological weapons that could pose a threat to United States citizens by foreign entities that are so advanced some can even use an individual’s DNA to target them specifically.
Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, Army General Richard Clarke, spoke at the Aspen Security Forum about the possibilities and capabilities of biological and germ warfare in 2022.
Speaking on a panel at the Forum, Clarke explained that the United States is currently ill-equipped to handle the impact of certain types of biological or chemical attacks. He spoke of chlorine and mustard gas, as well as the nerve agent attacks of Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Britain in 2018.
Republican Senator Joni Ernst (Iowa), who is a member of both the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities and Armed Services Committee, warned the audience that biological weapons are equally dangerous when used against food supplies as they are against people.
“If we look at food security, and what can our adversaries do with biological weapons that are directed at our animal agriculture, at our agricultural sector?” she asked. “Highly pathogenic avian influenza, African swine fever, all of these things have circulated around the globe, but if targeted by an adversary, we know that it brings about food insecurity. Food insecurity drives a lot of other insecurities around the globe.”
Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO) also appeared on the panel, warning of new weapons being developed that have the capability to use someone’s individual DNA and medical profile to eliminate them with a biological weapon. “That’s what this is, where you can actually take someone’s DNA, you know, their medical profile, and you can target a biological weapon that will kill that person or take them off the battlefield or make them inoperable,” he explained.
Crow went on to point out the dangers of family history websites that utilize DNA information to determine one’s ancestry, saying the decrease in personal privacy in the last two decades has led to more opportunities for bad actors to use biological and germ warfare.
“People will very rapidly spit into a cup and send it to 23andMe and get really interesting data about their background — and guess what? Their DNA is now owned by a private company. It can be sold off … with very little intellectual property protection or privacy protection, and we don’t have legal and regulatory regimes that deal with that,” he added.
Earlier this year, former Health and Human Services officials told Axios the United States is woefully underprepared for any such attack. “We are absolutely not close to meeting requirements. Ever,” said one former Trump-era HHS official. “We’ve routinely not been as prepared as our own government says we should be.”
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