Congressman warns U.S. is 'ill-prepared' for a 'biothreat' given advancements in 'genetic editing'

'75 years after Nagasaki and Hiroshima, we should've gotten rid of nuclear weapons a long time ago and for the sake of all humanity should be moving in that direction,' said Rep. Ami Bera (D-Calif.).

Updated: August 12, 2020 - 8:32am

California Democratic Rep. Ami Bera, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, warned that the United States is "ill-prepared" for a "biothreat," given advancements in "genetic editing" and other technology.

"I do think the Obama doctrine of trying to reach a nuclear-free world is the right doctrine," Bera said on Tuesday during a discussion organized by the Council on Foreign Relations. "I also worry very much now that there are bad actors out there who are looking at the global impact of this virus — you know, it is much easier to create a biothreat, the technology is much more accessible than obtaining a nuclear weapon. 

"This is something we have to come together as an international community to talk about. How do we create a system of norms to address biothreats and nuclear proliferation that occurs around biothreats? And that's a real concern because, again, the technology to do genetic editing, etcetera is readily available, and I think we are ill-prepared for that type of threat," he added.

Bera, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and Nonproliferation, also said nuclear weapons should have been eliminated a long time ago.

"75 years after Nagasaki and Hiroshima, we should've gotten rid of nuclear weapons a long time ago, and for the sake of all humanity should be moving in that direction," he said.

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