Is Biodefense the Best Defense?

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Anthrax was in the news again this week with false alarms at three Washington, D.C. mail facilities. Then the Department of Homeland Security issued a doomsday-style report, offering its death and damage estimates for potential terrorist attacks. Scenarios involving biological weapons like pneumonic plague, and hoof and mouth disease were at the top of the list.

While the government prepares for bio-terror on a grand scale, more than 700 of the nation’s leading scientists are warning that the billions of government dollars pouring into research on anthrax and other potential bio-weapons are costing Americans more than money. They say it’s taking the focus off diseases that are already killing people. So is Biodefense the Best Defense?


John Rennie, editor-in-chief of Scientific American

Abigail Salyers, University of Illinois microbiology professor and former president of the American Association of Microbiology

C.J. Peters, biodefense director at the Center for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases at the University of Texas in Galveston.