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August 6, 1997

Why Should We Be Concerned About Biological Warfare?

JAMA. 1997;278(5):431-432. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03550050093040

There is a widespread tendency to think about defense against biological warfare as unnecessary, as someone else's responsibility, or as simply too difficult. Unfortunately, however, the dangers posed by biological weapons did not disappear when the United States began to unilaterally dismantle its own of-fensive program in 1969. The dangers did not vanish with the signing of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention of 1972, and they did not dissipate with the end of the Cold War or the threat of nuclear retaliation against Iraq during the Persian Gulf conflict. Only by planning and investing in the right training and defensive measures can we diminish the likelihood that biological weapons will be used and reduce the risks, disruption, and casualties in the event that such weapons are used.1 Fortunately, significant improvements can be made in our defensive posture at relatively modest levels of investment, and both the Department of

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