Margaret A.WinkerMD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthorPhil B.FontanarosaMD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthor
In Reply.—Dr Tokuda has touched on the
importance of physicians' ethical responsibilities. This point was not fully
emphasized in our article, but it lies at the heart of both the proliferation
and deterrence of biological warfare.
Scientists and physicians have played a central role in the development
of offensive biological weapons. In addition to Tokuda's examples of the Aum
Shinrikyo cult and Unit 731, we would add that the former US offensive program
enlisted some of the brightest minds in microbiology during World War II.
It was a wartime effort that "vied only with the Manhattan Project . . . in
securing certain types of scientists."1
The entire US effort was focused on research and development of biological
weapons for retaliation in the event the Axis countries resorted to their
use.1 However, based on ethical considerations,
the US Army Surgeon General recused the use of the military's medical staff
for any offensive research and development.1
Kadlec RF, Zelicoff AP. Physicians and Biological Warfare Agents—Reply. JAMA. 1998;279(4):273–274. doi:10.1001/jama.279.4.271
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