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The risk of bioweapons use: Considering the evidence base

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There are some weapons deemed so abhorrent that the international community has agreed to eliminate them completely. The first of these was biological weapons. Their use was banned in 1925; their development, production and stockpiling in 1972. Yet concerns about these weapons have not gone away. Indeed, post 9/11 and the anthrax letters, the political attention to them has increased despite what seems to be a very weak evidence base. This roundtable asks four leading biological disarmament and non-proliferation experts their views on the risk of bioweapons proliferation and use, the strength of the taboo and prohibition against the use of biology to sicken and kill people, and the responsibility of life scientists in this regard.

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I am grateful to the four biological disarmament and non-proliferation experts who participated in the roundtable for their time and contributions, and to Richard Guthrie at for providing the photo. The roundtable was supported by an ESRC Mid-Career Fellowship on the politics of bioterrorism.

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Lentzos, F. The risk of bioweapons use: Considering the evidence base. BioSocieties 9, 84–93 (2014).

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