J Med Ethics 35:429-432 doi:10.1136/jme.2008.028944
  • Global medical ethics
    • Paper

Is all fair in biological warfare? The controversy over genetically engineered biological weapons

  1. J M Appel
  1. Dr Jacob M Appel, 140 Claremont Ave #3D, New York, NY 10027; jacobmappel{at}
  • Received 16 December 2008
  • Revised 26 February 2009
  • Accepted 12 March 2009


Advances in genetics may soon make possible the development of ethnic bioweapons that target specific ethnic or racial groups based upon genetic markers. While occasional published reports of such research generate public outrage, little has been written about the ethical distinction (if any) between the development of such weapons and ethnically neutral bioweapons. The purpose of this paper is to launch a debate on the subject of ethnic bioweapons before they become a scientific reality.


  • Competing interests: None.

  • Provenance and Peer review: Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.