Gene editing: The future of warfare?

Beijing has tried to edit its soldiers’ genes to withstand extremely cold conditions, especially in Leh areas

Indo-China news from the Gogra Valley has brought optimism at least to India. That’s because India is poised to make the long haul in the winter months after being handed over to its Chinese counterpart. China’s willingness to disband itself may be closely linked to the fact that PLA troops are not sufficiently trained for physical condition in extreme weather conditions.

At the same time, it appeared in the process of “disconnection” but another relatively neglected piece of news was the Chinese study of genetic adaptations in Tibet. The study, which was officially announced to study “plateau diseases,” seeks to find genetic adaptations in high-altitude areas. The “Bank of Biological Samples of High Plains Human Genetic Resources” has collected and analyzed the genetic adaptations of more than 1,00,000 people of Tibetan descent over the past fifteen years. He noted that China’s military technological advances go beyond the realm of hybrid warfare. Wuhan virus laboratory escape theories have focused the attention of security experts on combining China’s military capabilities with new technologies.

From India’s point of view, it is an emerging threat that will be an important determinant of victory in future battle scenes. Today, against China, India has special mountain battalions that are trained to fight wars in high-altitude areas. As an effort to make it a truly invincible term, reports say Beijing has tried to edit its soldiers ’genes, especially in the Leh areas, to fight Indian soldiers. Its genetic bank is of tremendous value for biomedical research, as soldiers were experiencing problems with the cold on the Indo-Chinese border.

There are many others in China who tend to collect DNA and gene data from countries around the world. The use of prenatal BGI testing tools used worldwide requires the mandatory consent of users to store genetic data. Unexpected countries have used these kits and as a result, China has achieved unlimited flow of genotype information from several Asian and European countries. Knowledge of genetic data from several countries certainly has a dual use. The data can be used by Chinese biomedical research universities to create new viruses that can not only fight “super-soldiers” that can fight in different climatic conditions, but also immunological ones. a system of a particular nationality or ethnicity. Thus, in the future, a “limited bio-medical war” initiated by China is an option. At this point the government should consider it and the scientific community in India should develop high quality alternatives to non-invasive indigenous birth festivals and the data collected should be stored or destroyed by the government without separation. to other countries or to private market players.

The attempt to move the Chinese war front to a new threshold is not new. In 2010, Guo Jiwei, a professor at China Medical University, linked the “War for Biological Dominance” to biology and the war of the future. Later, the 2013 Military Strategy Science (SMS) mentioned biotechnology in addition to computer science and other strategies as new areas. In 2015, He Fuchu, president of the Military Academy of Medical Sciences, spoke about “brain control” weapons. In 2017, Chinese scientists were successful in editing a normal human embryo (via IVF). Also in 2018, Chinese biophysics researcher He Jiankui announced a successful gene editing experiment to boost babies ’HIV immunity. Later, in 2019, China approached brain research when it announced its transgenic monkey, whose brain was altered with a human gene. Although not ethically appropriate, yet, China’s ability to genetically control its brain change may be an experiment for PLA soldiers.

Tibetan gene collection and sampling suggests that China now wants to edit sperm and egg genes before FIVF / fertilization so that genetically modified citizens can take births and avoid diseases like favism and perhaps even become harsh in the face of harsh climatic conditions now on the Indo-Chinese border. yes. These Chinese intentions have been confirmed by U.S. intelligence agencies, which talk about conducting “human tests” to obtain the birth of humans with “biologically enhanced abilities”.

The question that arises is how can China achieve the most sophisticated biomedical research technology so soon? Well, in fact, its scientists have a role to play, but most importantly, China’s military-civilian fusion strategies and related “thousand grains of sand” programs have linked many civilian research scholars to the CCP’s agenda. Most of these research scholars have been sent abroad, especially to the US, to understand critical technologies that could help Beijing take advantage of its opponents. As the spy ring widened to protect intellectual property and critical technologies, in 2018 the U.S. launched a “China Initiative Program” to find “unusual collectors” such as research scholars, academics, and teachers of Chinese descent. Which can advance the CCP’s agenda. Song Guo Zheng, a professor of rheumatology, said that the prosecutor’s office, which helped China make important advances in immunology, said it was trying to arm the knowledge of Chinese medicine.

Closely related to gene editing technologies and intellectual property theft, another worrying aspect is China’s dominance in the pharmaceutical and medical supplies industry. India currently imports 70% of its active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) from China to obtain various medicines. Being an important API for many antibiotics and medicines like Para Amino Phenol (Paracetamol) from China, safety factors can be linked. For example, the declining relative effectiveness of common drugs has been a major concern in the national media in the years leading up to the outbreak of the Corona pandemic. Although unthinkable at the time, the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria may have been attributed to the supply of lower APIs. Moreover, in the early stages of the pandemic, similar concerns were publicly expressed by several countries, such as the US, who reported the supply of faulty N95 masks that did not comply with US standards. Therefore, quality control of imported medicines, APIs, and other supplies are important determinants of success in future epidemic or pandemic outbreaks. Such developments also spark discussions of dependencies in the supply chain management of critical goods and services.

India must also prepare for the evolution of the borders of war. Biological warfare, gene editing, along with the use of AI technologies, are here to show their deadly nature. China’s technological advances and potential threats require new innovative thinking and responses. The government needs to convince life sciences academics to consider the basic security goals of India, especially around interrelated developments. Alternative API supply chains should also be explored to obtain reliable pharmaceutical products. As the horizons of war expand, so should measures to deal with it and think in terms of threats and solutions.

(The writer is an assistant professor at the Central University of Punjab, Bathinda. The opinions expressed are personal)