Thursday, September 3, 2009

Ken Alibek since Biohazard

When reading Biohazard, I was interested by all of Alibek's assertions, but I was somewhat disturbed by his self-admitted lack of moral concern about the effects of his work. I decided to read up on criticism of him to see what other scientists think about his work and his statements about the Soviet biowarfare program. Since his defection to the United States, Alibek seems to have become something of a charlatan in his medical efforts. He now sells a vitamin supplement called "Dr. Ken Alibek's Immune System Support Formula", which costs $60 and purports to help the body defend against "constant attack" according to ads. Alibek was a tenured professor at George Mason University at the Center of Biodefense and Infectious Diseases. However, his involvement with AFG biosolutions, a biotechnology company doing cancer research, was seen as conflicting with his duties as a professor, and he resigned in 2006. There has also been some criticism among bioweapons experts that Alibek may have exaggerated some of his claims about Soviet weapons programs in order to receive more government defense contracts from anti-bioterrorism efforts. Finally, his actual microbiological techniques have been questioned, with the feasibility of putting ebola genes into smallpox to create a 'supervirus' regarded with extreme skepticism.

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