Biological agents

Discussion in 'The Intelligence Cell' started by Trans-sane, Dec 2, 2012.

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  1. Trans-sane

    Trans-sane LE Book Reviewer

    This is something that has been floating around in my head for more than a decade now, ever since I was a not-so-spotty undergrad. Why hasn't a group (state or non-state actors) attempted to carry out a biological attack, not on people but on crops/livestock?

    The Green Revolution has been estimated to have saved a billion people from starvation by increasing crop yields. And widely regarded as the single most important development was the breeding of a strain of wheat with extremely high resistance to wheat rust fungus. but even with such resistance yield losses of 5-20% are considered normal, and losses of upto 50% have been recorded. And now there are strains for rust fungus that have arrisen in Africa in the last decade or so that have been migrating eastwards and may already have reached the Punjab (last source I read was about two years ago and suggested as the rust strains had reached eastern Iran then it was inevitable that the Punjab would be affected soon).

    Rice blast is another scourge of staple crops and it is estimated that the lost yield to it could feed 60 million people for a year. But there are thousands of individual diseases and millions of strains all of which affect farming.

    So why has one of the various nutter groups not carried out an attack? The technology isn't difficult to obtain even if you wish to use molecular biology to increase destructiveness etc. The financial impact is obvious. If the agricultural states of the US lost 50% of their wheat harvest the impact around the entire world would be massive. Ditto for Russia, India and China and ditto for rice. Then such an outbreak would no doubt lead to regulation on the movement of agricultural products, further impacting supply to markets, further pushing up costs to consumers and decreasing availability. Then there would be the social impact- hungry people riot, starving people cannot be economically productive. And where hunger reigns, disease follows as malnutrition weakens imune systems.

    Another question, if such an attack did occur on the mid-west prairies, would the NATO mutual defence clauses apply? Such an attack would clearly be a WME rather than WMD, and I'd imagine it would be a stone bitch to even proove that it had been an attack, never mind find a culprit. Thoughts?
     
  2. If you've been thinking about this for ten years maybe you should take up woodturning or knitting.
     
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  3. I reckon that Ash Dieback was started by the energy companies so they could sell more oil, gas and electricity. All these people buying wood burners couldn't have been good for business
     
  4. Great!!..Maybe they will.. now youve wrote this..
     
  5. Probably because screaming 'Allah Akhbar' to a video of crops slowly withering away doesn't have the same impact as screaming 'Allah Akhbar' whilst lopping off someones head.
     
  6. IRA planned for this since 1950s.
    But looks like we more likely to do it to ourselves ??Power Fails for 3 Hours at Plum Island Infectious Disease Lab - NYTimes.com
     
  7. mercurydancer

    mercurydancer LE Book Reviewer

    The IRA planned for crop failures since the 1950s? OK I understand, it was an IRA plot to kill off Kentish hops and the Kent police and Deal police in particular covered it all up. However, the hop crop failure resulted in beer which for the next four decades would taste like piss. The IRA also tried to disguise the hop crop poisoning by relabelling the resultant beer as coming from Australia. Ive always wondered why Fosters tastes like cat piss. Now I know why. Thank you knocknee, another mystery revealed.
     
  8. The LAST thing you want in a biological agent is to cause an epidemic! Far too likely to boomerang back on yourseves..

    If you look at the "traditional" BW agents, the game is to damage the target directly with the agent, but not cause further infections. This is why many of the agents are animal diseases such as anthrax or tularemia which do not pass from human to human or need a specific transmission vector such as fleas/rats with bubonic plague.
     
  9. If the 2001 Foot and Mouth wasn't an attack, it damn well should have been. It crippled the country for months. Not 'cos its particularly lethal, but because of the hysterical over-reaction and cocked up contingency planning.

    Seriously though, there's an incredible number of diseases already out there in the live environment. Even a weaponised bug would probably just be classed as just yet another soddin' Invasive Alien species.


    Crops fail-Routinely. There's no point in wiping out the oppositions harvest, (and possibly your own) UNLESS you can also exclude them from the world markets. It would only work on a state under total blockade, and even shithole regimes under heavy embargo like North Korea still get food parcels off the UN.

    We may very well have been hit already. The annoying thing for any aggressor is that we might not even have noticed.
     
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  10. Back in the day (think 'cold war') I had fantasies of them there fellas with snow on their boots bombarding our frontline heroes with Atropine.
    What would the boys at the front do to combat this chemical attack - why, inject themselves with more of the same of course.
    Entire NATO forces commit mass suicide in the face of incoming Russian hordes.
    Needless to say I kept this idea to myself in case those Ruskies caught wind of it ..........:)
     
  11. What makes you think that it has not been used and kept quiet.
     
  12. As a planning exercise, might our not knowing work in the long-term interests of a foe? We have a highly marketised food production sector and if our own internal producers get put out of business by repeated crop failures and our switching to overseas sources, we're less food-secure and as a result less able to withstand compulsion short of war.

    I'm thinking something along the lines of 'we'd like this voted for in the UN, incidentally those food deals we have are coming up for renewal'.
     
  13. Foot and mouth was a government organised plan to effectively reduce the stock levels within the UK farming industry in line with European directives.
     
  14. Couple of points to note: If you compare the start of the last F&M outbreak to the previous one in 1967 it is of intrest that both started quite close to the geographic centre of the UK. The 1967 outbreak did not cause as much damage to the industry because there was no need for the same movement of stock to get animals to slaughter. Government policy and hysteria about health and safety regarding the small slaughterhouses saw to their demise. It is also my understanding that a very nice gentleman came over from the USSR with some documentation regarding the 1967 outbreak which did in fact blame an individual Country.