Research Article
No access
Published Online: 25 September 2006

The Dual-Use Dilemma for the Life Sciences: Perspectives, Conundrums, and Global Solutions

Publication: Biosecurity and Bioterrorism: Biodefense Strategy, Practice, and Science
Volume 4, Issue Number 3

Abstract

The term "dual-use" traditionally has been used to describe technologies that could have both civilian and military usage, but this term has at least three different dimensions that pose a dilemma for modern biology and its possible misuse for hostile purposes: (1) ostensibly civilian facilities that are in fact intended for military or terrorist bioweapons development and production; (2) equipment and agents that could be misappropriated and misused for biological weapons development and production; and (3) the generation and dissemination of scientific knowledge that could be misapplied for biological weapons development and production. These three different aspects of the "dual-use dilemma" are frequently confused—each demands a distinct approach within a "web of prevention" in order to reduce the future risk of bioterrorism and biowarfare. This article discusses the nature of the different perspectives and divergent approaches as a contribution to finding a scientifically acceptable global solution to the problem posed by the dual-use dilemma. We propose that: (1) facilities that are intended for bioweapons development and production should be primarily prevented by a strengthened Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) effectively implemented in all nation states, one that includes provisions for adequate transparency to improve confidence and a mechanism for thorough inspections when there is sufficient cause, and enhanced law enforcement activities involving international cooperation and sharing of critical intelligence information; (2) potentially dual-use equipment and agents should be available to legitimate users for peaceful purposes, but strengthened national biosafety and physical and personnel biosecurity controls in all nations together with effective export controls should be implemented to limit the potential for the misappropriation of such equipment and materials; and (3) information should be openly accessible by the global scientific community, but a culture of responsible conduct involving the breadth of the international life sciences communities should be adopted to protect the ongoing revolution in the life sciences from being hijacked for hostile misuse of the knowledge generated and communicated by life scientists.

Get full access to this article

View all available purchase options and get full access to this article.

Information & Authors

Information

Published In

cover image Biosecurity and Bioterrorism: Biodefense Strategy, Practice, and Science
Biosecurity and Bioterrorism: Biodefense Strategy, Practice, and Science
Volume 4Issue Number 3September 2006
Pages: 276 - 286
PubMed: 16999588

History

Published online: 25 September 2006
Published in print: September 2006

Permissions

Request permissions for this article.

Topics

Authors

Affiliations

Professor Ronald M. Atlas, PhD
Center for Health Hazard Preparedness, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky.
Professor Malcolm Dando, PhD
Disarmament Research Centre, University of Bradford, Bradford, West Yorkshire, England.

Metrics & Citations

Metrics

Citations

Export citation

Select the format you want to export the citations of this publication.

View Options

Get Access

Access content

To read the fulltext, please use one of the options below to sign in or purchase access.

Society Access

If you are a member of a society that has access to this content please log in via your society website and then return to this publication.

Restore your content access

Enter your email address to restore your content access:

Note: This functionality works only for purchases done as a guest. If you already have an account, log in to access the content to which you are entitled.

View options

PDF/EPUB

View PDF/ePub

Media

Figures

Other

Tables

Share

Share

Copy the content Link

Share on social media

Back to Top