Ethical Aspects of Bioterrorism and Biodefence

  • Elizabeta RistanovicEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the NATO Science for Peace and Security Series A: Chemistry and Biology book series (NAPSA)


Bioterrorism is the phenomenon as old as civilization. The use of biological agents in war and subversive actions was recognized as an unhonourable weapon and a crime against humankind even in the ancient time. The development of bioweapons was always the expression of scientific and technological progress resulting in new military aspirations so during the Cold War period the world was even at the edge of the real biological warfare. After the sign of BWC the most powerful state actors prohibited the use of bioweapons but all of them continued the investigations with “biodefence purposes”. Today in the post 9/11 world bioterrorism is recognized as one of the leading security threat of the modern world that should be considered from the socio-political, economic, security, scientific, public-health, ecological and ethical points of view. The scientific progress, especially in the fields of molecular biology, genetic engineering, biotechnology and nanotechnology opened the questions about their possible misuse for improvement of biological weapons and making them more specific and effective (dual-use dilemma). In order to protect humankind and prevent possible misuse of biotechnology and bioterrorism in the world it is necessary to establish an international consensus in bioethical approaches. The ethics questions and considerations in bioterrorism and biodefense must cover multidisciplinary issues including the ethical principles of medicine, fundamental sciences, technology, law, politics, international relations, security, public health, environment, economy and war conducting, each with the unique ethical framework. But it also opens many controversies that will be discussed in the paper. The act of bioterrorism itself also change ethical approaches and make new frame of the ratio between personal, national and international security and open many other questions that should be analyzed.


Bioterrorism Biological weapons Biodefence Ethical issues Research 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Military Medical AcademyUniversity of DefenceBelgradeSerbia

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