IRRC No. 318

The prohibition of biological weapons: Current activities and future prospects

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Deliberately induced disease or biological warfare is a source of increasing concern as we approach the twenty-first century, as its prevention is central to the security, health and well-being of the global community. In the simplest terms, biological warfare means placing the health of humans, animals and plants at risk from disease deliberately induced as a hostile act. Disease has caused more casualties in all wars than actual weapons of war and there is increasing — and justified — worldwide concern about new and emerging diseases. As the world population continues to increase, new areas of land are occupied and there is greater overcrowding in populated areas, with an ever-greater demand for both plants and animals as sources of food. This creates more opportunities for new or old diseases to spread among humans, animals and plants, with all the consequential socio-economic damage to the countries concerned.

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