Is the United States hell bent on creating a super “DNA” weapon to attack Russians?
That relatively far-fetched hypothesis has been talked about after Vladimir Putin’s acknowledgement at the end of last month that American researchers were eager to collect biological information on folks in Russia.
Addressing a senior official’s complaint that the Pentagon might be collecting photographs of Russians by hacking into numerous CCTV and surveillance systems in the country, Putin laid bare an even more jaw-dropping claim – that folks in different parts of Russia and from different ethnic groups were wanted for a “systematic and professional” harvest of DNA, fluids, organs and tissues, Russian News Agency TASS has documented.
The accusation centers on a recent U.S. Air Force call for tender biospecimen procurement: 12 ordinary human ribonucleic acid (RNA) samples, plus 27 fresh human synovial samples, of Russian or Europid descent, that have to be collected in Russia.
Senior Russian officials and members of the State Duma have clearly become jittery after Putin verified a long-running rumour about Washington’s clandestine, eerie interest in Russian genes and bio-info.
Putin’s press secretary afterwards explained to reporters that the president was briefed by intelligence officials. But, the Kremlin remained tight-lipped when questioned for more details.
“Don’t get scared. Let them do what they want, and we must do what we must [to stop them],” Putin was quoted as stating by Russian media.
Alexander Korobko, director of Russia’s DNA Project, has routed an open letter to the U.S. Air Force questioning if it has been developing bioweapons or practizing eugenics.
In response, a U.S. Air Education and Training Command spokesman observed that “the researchers are using the samples to conduct musculo-skeletal research aimed at identifying the different bio-markers associated with injury and were not targeting Russians with the study”.
It has been indicated that U.S. funds have been backing bio-labs in countries neighboring Russia, which includes 13 in Ukraine, four in Georgia, two in Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, though there’s no proof that these labs are associated with the collection of Russian DNA.
A conspiracy theory that the U.S. military might be developing “superbugs” or a man-made pandemic targeting Russians has been stirred up by numerous respondents in a related survey by Rambler, Russia’s largest search engine and news portal.
Certainly, there has been greater awareness in gene decoding, editing and modification over the past decade following the landmark accomplishment of human genome sequencing in 2003.
Yet a professor at the Medical College of Georgia explained to Global Times the concept of inserting gene sections of high pathogenicity into the DNA of existing viruses or bacteria to slaughter a specific race or folks of a specific country was fictitious – as all humans share predominantly similar genes in spite of differences in race and ethnicity.
“Members of tribes that never intermarry with outsiders may be prone to such a DNA ‘weapon’, but in today’s globalised world, the genes of people have become more mixed than ever.”
In his correspondence, Korobko also questioned whether the U.S. tender was unscientific, as far as genetics go, because Russia is a enormous country and people’s DNA varies from one region to another, often more widely than from country to country in Europe.
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