• Javonte Maynor

Global Health Threat From Man-Made Viruses

Over the past decade, scientist have advanced the study of synthetic biology by currently having the ability to modify the DNA of pathogens with alarming speed and efficacy, according to Newsweek. What this mean is that scientist have taken harmless pathogens and re-engineered them in the lab to become lethal viruses if released into the public. The intention of the scientist are to study the pathogens so that vaccines and medical procedures can be created to fight a health crisis if the viruses were to emerge in the world.

In the wrong hands, today's genetically modified viruses can inflict catastrophic harm to the world at an unbelievable scale. For instance, the H5N1 virus ("bird flu") that is harmless organically and not easily transmissible from human-to-human was modified in the lab to a form that is now easily transmissible to humans and one of the most deadliest pathogens ever seen by a virologist. Many scientist and experts believe that synthetic biology pose a huge risk to humanity due to the possibility of a wholesale militarization effort to package lethal viruses as bio weapons. They also believe that it's very unlikely we can keep these viruses locked behind closed doors due to how easy it is for hackers to access the genetic make-up of the viruses and recreate them in a lab the size of an RV. As of right now there is no reason to outright ban synthetic biology in the US, due to the technological competition with other countries, but we as a nation need to do something protect ourselves from the unethical use of man-made viruses.

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