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DNA Testing The Terrorists


DNA testing is increasingly popular but could terrorists use DNA data as a weapon for destruction? Since the events of September 11 when two planes were used to bring down the Twin Towers in New York, the terrorist threat has been foremost of Western fears. Terrorism is a tool being used all over the world from crude suicide nail bombs to sophisticated plots such as the attack on the World Trade Centre. DNA testing taps into unique information and is used for genetic engineering, but could this information possibly be a further weapon in the terrorist’s arson?

DNA Testing and Terrorism

The issue was raised five years ago when concerns were at a peak over whether terrorists could steal or use publicly information that is available on harmful microbes and to use new genetic engineering techniques to create lethal bio-weapons. Considering many of the terrorist attacks in the past have been crude bombs, it does sound like a most unlikely scenario. But the truth that recent failed terrorist attacks in the UK were allegedly masterminded by professionals like doctors and surgeons does indeed raise fears that more sophisticated measures could be possible.

DNA Testing and Databases

DNA testing is very popular amongst people in tracing their ancestry, to protect identities and in proving paternity. DNA testing is also used to keep a database on convicted criminals. However DNA testing can also be used by scientists in identifying harmful microbes. The prospect of terrorists using this data to in order to create weapons has prompted calls for this information to be classified.

DNA and Bio-Weapons

But DNA testing is still a highly specialised field Dr. Claire Fraser a leading scientist has told the BBC that potential bioterrorists would not be able to create any bio-weapons from the information and DNA databases that are available to the public simply because no one knows enough about the subject. Many scientists believe it’s important for DNA testing and DNA databases to be open enabling the promotion of research and to advance science.

No Threat from Genetics

The advances in DNA and DNA testing have led to modern genetic engineering techniques but some people fear that terrorists armed with these techniques would be able to create havoc. Although terrorists have in the past used Sarin (on the Tokyo underground in 2001) the thought that they can use genetics to create deadly weapons is in reality practical. Although DNA testing has helped scientists to uncover a lot of genetic information about viruses and bacteria – the understanding is simply not there to be of any practical use to the terrorists.

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