Warfare, Biological

The classic definition of biological warfare is the deliberate employment of disease agents to inflict casualties among military and/or civilian human populations, animals used for food or transport, or food crops. Because of the randomness and relative efficacy of some diseases, such as smallpox or anthrax, biological warfare has acquired a sinister reputation as a weapon of mass destruction. It is worth considering, however, that biological warfare may also encompass the use of disease-carrying insect or animal vectors as the means by which to spread disease. Likewise the use of specific refined natural toxins—for example, paralyzing agents such as curare or botulinum toxin, or life-threatening toxins such as ricin, derived from castor beans—may be rightly considered forms of biological warfare.

Biowarfare From Antiquity to the Early ...

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