How U.S. views threats has changed over time

The Kansas City Star (Sunday) - - BUSINESS -

said there have been dra­matic changes in re­cent years in how the United States views bi­o­log­i­cal threats.

Franz said that in the Cold War, it was largely a bat­tle­field con­cern that one army might un­leash bi­o­log­i­cal weapons on an­other. In the 1990s, wor­ries about bi­o­log­i­cal threats be­gan to in­clude ter­ror­ists.

Then in 2008, fed­eral author- ities ac­cused Bruce Ivins, a for­mer U.S. Army mi­cro­bi­ol­o­gist, of send­ing a se­ries of an­thraxlaced letters that killed five peo­ple in fall 2001. Ivins com­mit­ted sui­cide in 2008. Franz said the case changed the fo­cus to “in­sid­ers.”

Even an­i­mal dis­eases that don’t trans­fer to hu­mans could cause bil­lions of dol­lars in the dam­age to the U.S. econ­omy in a mat­ter of weeks. Bar­bara Dro­let, a U.S. Agri­cul­ture Depart­ment mi­cro­bi­ol­o­gist, said the coun­try needs to spend more to di­ag­nose an­i­mal dis­eases and to de­velop the abil­ity to quickly pro­duce vac­cines.

“This is ab­so­lutely a threat to the United States,” Dro­let said.

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