A member of the United States House Intelligence Committee warned that bioweapons that use a target’s DNA to kill only that individual are being developed. Because of the impending arrival of the new type of weapon, US Representative Jason Crow of Colorado warned Americans not to be too careless about sharing their DNA with private firms on Friday at the Aspen Security Forum. ‘ You can use a biological weapon to kill that person, take them off the battlefield, or render them inoperable,’ Crow explained. ‘You can take someone’s DNA, you know, their medical profile,’ he continued.
Given the prevalence of DNA testing services, in which customers voluntarily share their genetic mapping with companies in order to learn more about their ancestry and health, the congressman believes the development of these weapons is concerning. Although 23andMe has repeatedly stated that it does not sell its customers’ personal information, it is one of many DNA companies that has done so when police have requested it.
As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, US Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa stated that the US’s adversaries may use such DNA bioweapons to attack the food supply on a large scale. Ernst warned that specific animals used by civilians, armies, or towns could be the target of biological weapons, resulting in scarcity, food poverty, and population weakness. The Washington Examiner published an article earlier this week detailing how simple it would be to create bioweapons similar to those advocated by Crow using privately owned datasets.
The article described how a target’s DNA, or the DNA of a target’s close relative, could be extracted and used to create a biological weapon that could only be used against that particular person. Such technology could enable highly targeted assassination programmes while also making it much more difficult to track down murderers. Similar technology could be used against US agriculture by developing weapons that target a specific type of farm animal or produce. This could lead to starvation and bring the US to its knees in the face of hostile actions from a competitor such as Russia or China.