Law and science drive technology in the war against bioterrorism

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The US approach to defense against bioterrorism is necessarily constrained by existing legal frameworks. Biodefense research also responds to the development of new laws designed to address bioterrorism threats, but for the most part, technology is not driving the development of new law. While the biotechnology revolution has resulted in a wide range of biodefense applications, these can be used only within existing constitutional restraints and statutory frameworks. These rules, including safety precautions, privacy concerns, and compensatory systems, will continue to shape technologies to fit within those constraints. Several examples demonstrate that technology cannot be used in ways that threaten the legal foundations of our society. Thus technology is now being challenged to come up with more rule-sensitive approaches. In other areas, such as research priorities, progress toward an effective biodefense would be better served by prioritizing research according to scientifically based organizing principles. In order to reach the next level of effectiveness in biodefense, we must understand the complex interrelations of biotechnology and law.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-301
Number of pages15
JournalTechnology in Society
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Apr 2004


  • Biodefense
  • Biotechnology
  • Bioterrorism: law
  • Public policy
  • Research
  • Technology


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