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Biological weapons, genetics and social analysis: emerging responses, emerging issues--I

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Recent terrorist attacks in the USA have generated significant attention in many countries to the threats posed by biological weapons. In response to these events and the spectre of future attacks, bioscientists and professional organizations have begun or intensified asking questions about the possible malign applications of their research. As Part I of a two-part article, this paper surveys how genetics might contribute to the development of novel forms of weaponry. It is further argued that the dilemmas and difficulties facing bioscientists pose pressing and thorny questions for the hitherto agendas and orientations of those concerned with the social, ethical and political implications of genetics. Part II will examine the emerging responses initiated by biomedical organizations and spokespersons in the US and the UK. This will be done with a view to asking how scientific and medical research communities are defining and policing notions of professionalism, responsibility and accountability. On the basis of this, suggested lines for future social analysis will be offered.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG7 2RD, UK

Publication date: August 1, 2003

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