House Intelligence Committee member Rep. Jason Crow, a military veteran who served three tours of duty overseas as an Army Ranger, warned during a forum this week that America’s enemies are likely developing weapons designed to use DNA to target specific people.
“There are now weapons under development, and developed, that are designed to target specific people,” he said Friday at this year’s Aspen Security Forum.
“That’s what this is, where you can actually take someone’s DNA, you know, their medical profile, and you can target a biological weapon that will kill that person or take them off the battlefield or make them inoperable.”
The development of these weapons, he added, is why Americans must be far more careful about what companies they share their DNA with.
“People will very rapidly spit into a cup and send it to 23andMe and get really interesting data about their background — and guess what? Their DNA is now owned by a private company. It can be sold off with very little intellectual property protection or privacy protection, and we don’t have legal and regulatory regimes to deal with that,” he explained.
“So we have to have an open and public discussion … about what does the protection of healthcare information, DNA information, and your data look like? Because that data is actually going to be procured and collected by our adversaries for the development of these systems.”
The forum is “an annual three-and-a-half day conference in Aspen, CO presented by the Aspen Strategy Group,” that provides “a non-partisan public venue for global leaders to discuss the key national security and foreign policy issues of the day.”
23andMe meanwhile is a service that collects DNA from customers, runs tests on the DNA, and then mails back reports about the DNA.
The prospect of biological weapons being used to target specific people is not a new idea and has in fact been on the radar for quite some time, though it admittedly used to be perceived as just a wild conspiracy theory.
Back in 2019, for instance, Cambridge University published a study warning that the “world must prepare for [a] biological weapon that target ethnic groups based on genetics,” as reported at the time by a Nigerian paper known as The Guardian (not to be confused with the U.K. Guardian).
“A new report from Cambridge University’s Centre for the Study of Existential Risk says that world governments have failed when it comes to preparing against threats like futuristic bioweapons powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and genetic manipulation. Such weapons would have to power to target specific DNA, and kill certain races of people leaving other swaths of the population unharmed,” the paper reported.
“Imagine it being sprayed in the form of the tinfoil hat conspiracy of chemtrails, and wiping out certain portions of the population. The authors warn: ‘The technology is becoming increasingly sophisticated at ever cheaper prices, democratising the ability to harm more quickly and lethally. In a particularly bad case, a bio-weapon could be built to target a specific ethnic group based on its genomic profile.'”
One day we will see biological weapons that can target specific ethnicities. You may think race is a social construct. But DNA thinks otherwise.
— RAMZPAUL (@ramzpaul) January 27, 2020
The authors added that “[m]ore nefarious hands could (as they have before) develop pathogens and toxins to spread through air, food and water sources.”
Speaking at the Aspen Security Forum alongside Crow, Iowa Rep. Joni Ernst, a fellow military veteran, highlighted the latter point by noting that America’s enemies could potentially use such DNA-based weapons to also target the world’s food supplies.
“If we look at food security and what can our adversaries do with biological weapons that are directed at our animal agriculture, at our agricultural sector … highly pathogenic avian influenza, African swine fever, all of these things have circulated around the globe, but if targeted by an adversary, we know that it brings about food insecurity. Food insecurity drives a lot of other insecurities around the globe,” she said.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to know for certain which nations are developing or have already developed these sorts of biological weapons. All that there is are estimates and speculation.
It’s simply unfathomable that the Pentagon could ever dream of conducting a secret biological warfare testing program. Please do not read the voluminous reports by the federal government detailing the existence of these programs pic.twitter.com/XQRhMtAtUD
— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) March 11, 2022
“[T]he number of states with biological warfare programs has been estimated to be in the range of 16 to 20. The number of states with the capacity to make biological weapons is over 100,” according to The Guardian.
“Due to the secrecy with which such programmes are conducted and the fact that facilities for producing biological weapons are easier to hide than the ones for nuclear and chemical weapons, it is hard to know exactly how many states possess biological weapons or to detect bio-weapons programmes. A further problem is the dual-use nature of many installations; it is difficult to distinguish defensive from offensive uses.”
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