The world of Biotechnology in movies and books

  • For those of us who have read Inferno written by Dan Brown the world of biological warfare would be familiar to us. The subject of biological warfare has been broached upon in various movies and books namely The Cassandra Compact by Robert Ludlum, G. I. Joe (the movie) etc. but very few of us are aware that this farfetched concept often propping up in the culture of science fiction is a reality. Prevalent as a form of warfare since 6th century B.C. biological warfare has been a predominant developing field since the onset of World War 1. By World War 2, United Kingdom led under the leadership of microbiologist Paul Fildes effectively weaponized anthrax and botulism toxins. The Japanese Imperial Army went a step further by testing the biological weapons upon prisoners of the war for which they were later severely chastised. The biological weapons have characteristics along the lines of infectivity, high virulence, non-availability of vaccines, and availability of an effective and an efficient delivery system making it a dangerous form of warfare. The toxin can spread to a large population and cause an epidemic if not quarantined at the initial stages. For example: Bacillus anthracis is an effective weapon creating aerosols of size 1 micrometre which can be easily inhaled causing degradation of the respiratory tract. If not through air, these bioweapons can enter the habitat through soil or water. There are various departments which ensure the complete preservation of bioweapons and their usage only for research purposes Centre for Disease Control (CDC), USA etc. Currently all projects of biological weapons are carried out under extreme scrutiny.

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