Contributing USMA Research Unit(s)
Chemistry and Life Science
Recent developments in biochemistry, genetics, and molecular biology have made it possible to engineer living organisms. Although these developments offer effective and efficient means with which to cure disease, increase food production, and improve quality of life for many people, they can also be used by state and non-state actors to develop engineered biological weapons. The virtuous circle of bioinformatics, engineering principles, and fundamental biological science also serves as a vicious cycle by lowering the skill-level necessary to produce weapons. The threat of bioengineered agents is all the more clear as the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the enormous impact that a single biological agent, even a naturally occurring one, can have on society. It is likely that terrorist organizations are monitoring these developments closely and that the probability of a biological attack with an engineered agent is steadily increasing.
Wickiser, John K.; O'Donovan, Kevin; Washington, Michael; Hummel, Stephen; and Burpo, Fred J, "Engineered Pathogens and Unnatural Biological Weapons: The Future Threat of Synthetic Biology" (2020). West Point Research Papers. 628.