I spent last weekend reading Bioviolence: Preventing Biological Terror and Crime, Barry Kellman, Cambridge, 2007 (reviewed last year by Foreign Affairs). I am impressed with the deep analysis and research that Professor Kellman has put into this issue. I understand his definition of Bioviolence as, “human interaction causing a disease or pathogen to attack mankind in some way that would not have naturally occurred.” Being an attorney and law professor, he categorizes the crime as Species Treason- a crime committed by man against mankind.
In this age of globalization, with our entire economy at grave risk and radicalized terrorists looking for any means of destroying the western way of life, there is an ever-increasing threat of Bioviolence. Naturally occurring diseases and pandemics have wrought death, destruction and economic loss on cultures over countless ages. Prior to the evolution of modern global transportation systems, many disease vectors were more or less geographically contained. The advent of air travel in the beginning of the last century made possible the globally-connected business and supply chains that span the world. At the same time, air travel has created a vehicle for the rapid spread of disease. Conversely, it also has given us a tremendous tool to be used in responding to critical needs such as biocountermeasures. No longer must a community or country feel they are without help from other nations. Emergency relief and medical supplies can be only hours away when the international situation requires, provided policy mechanisms are in place to allow it.
The aviation industry is now one of the most important nodes of our critical infrastructure. As an aviation operations and security expert and former Boeing 777, international airline captain, I have worked for years advocating the importance of preparing the industry through public-private partnerships to meet the associated challenges. The aviation industry must become a major stakeholder in the detection and prevention of the spread of both naturally occurring pandemics as well as Bioviolence. Kellman writes that law enforcement must become fully networked around the globe with policies established to meet the threats of Bioviolence. The enforcement people are expert in their business, but will be unable to maintain the level of expertise needed to stay up-to-speed on current suspect materials and behaviors. For this reason, each industry and business must develop trusted venues where these enforcers may turn for evaluation of situations and expertise on an ongoing basis.
I applaud Barry Kellman and Dr. Kimothy L. Smith, Executive Director of The Global Resource Initiative, for bringing this effort to the forefront of the security realm with the founding of the Institute for Bioscience and International Security Policy. After being incorporated last week in Washington DC , IBISP’s first workshop/meeting will be held next week at Georgetown University to begin moving this process forward. I am looking forward to putting my expertise to work in support of this project for the welfare of mankind.