Harley, John P. Department of Biological Sciences, Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond, Kentucky.
Last reviewed:May 2020
Show previous versions
- Historical background: fourteenth century to the present
- Biological agents posing the greatest threat
- Defenses against biological weapons
- Trends in counterbioterrorism
- Misuse of genomics
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
A form of terrorism in which there is the intentional release of biological agents (viruses, bacteria, fungi, or toxins) from living organisms or agents in order to cause death or disease in humans, animals, and/or plants; also referred to as biowarfare or germ warfare, particularly when practiced by military forces. Terrorism is defined by the U.S. government as the “unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.” The term bioterrorism does not imply that only biological agents are used in a particular attack. For example, terrorists can also utilize traditional weapons (for example, guns), chemical agents, or nuclear bombs. Although a biological agent may injure or kill humans, animals, or plants, the main aim of terrorists is to further their social and political goals by making their civilian targets feel that their government cannot protect them (Fig. 1). There are many biological agents found in nature; however, they also can be modified by the terrorist to make them even more dangerous. Some of these agents can be transmitted from person to person, and the infection may take hours or days to become apparent. A topic of growing concern is agroterrorism—the use of microbes to terrorize humans by destroying the food supply. See also: Bacteria; Bacteriology; Biotechnology; Fungi; Fungi and fungal toxins as weapons; Toxin; Virus
The content above is only an excerpt.
for your institution. Subscribe
To learn more about subscribing to AccessScience, or to request a no-risk trial of this award-winning scientific reference for your institution, fill in your information and a member of our Sales Team will contact you as soon as possible.
to your librarian. Recommend
Let your librarian know about the award-winning gateway to the most trustworthy and accurate scientific information.
AccessScience provides the most accurate and trustworthy scientific information available.
Recognized as an award-winning gateway to scientific knowledge, AccessScience is an amazing online resource that contains high-quality reference material written specifically for students. Contributors include more than 10,000 highly qualified scientists and 45 Nobel Prize winners.
MORE THAN 8700 articles covering all major scientific disciplines and encompassing the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science & Technology and McGraw-Hill Yearbook of Science & Technology
115,000-PLUS definitions from the McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms
3000 biographies of notable scientific figures
MORE THAN 19,000 downloadable images and animations illustrating key topics
ENGAGING VIDEOS highlighting the life and work of award-winning scientists
SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER STUDY and additional readings to guide students to deeper understanding and research
LINKS TO CITABLE LITERATURE help students expand their knowledge using primary sources of information