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Biological Weapons: 1914-1947 Chapter 1 This Chapter sum

This Chapter summarizes the evaluations made by historians with respect to the foundation, usage and major events of biological weapons between 1914 and 1947.

A consensus exists among scholars that during World War I the major warring powers concentrated their advanced scientific efforts in respect of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) on chemical as opposed to biological weapons. Public revulsion against the use of poison gases led to the 1925 Geneva Protocol which banned the use of chemical and biological weapons in warfare. Gathering international tensions led in the 1930s to intensified efforts by a number of countries to develop biological weapons. During World War II substantial progress was achieved in Europe and North America in creating and producing biological weapons and improving their means of delivery. However, the Allies and the Nazis made little use of such weapons in that war. As the veil of secrecy diminished during the postwar period, historians explored those developments in greater depth. Western historians failed at first to recognize the extent and vicious character of Imperial Japan's biological warfare program, which utilized experiments on prisoners of war and other human victims and involved combat use of pathogens by the Japanese Army against China. Eventually, its full extent found its way into historical accounts, including its coverup and exploitation by American authorities.

Definitions. According to Tucker, "biological warfare involves the deliberate use of disease-causing microbes and naturally occurring poisons to cause illness or death in people, livestock or crops" (Bioterrorism 285). He says that biological weapons consist of biological warfare agents --i.e "living microorganisms such as bacteria or viruses that cause fatal or incapacitating diseases, as well as toxins--nonliving poisons extracted from bacteria, plants, and animals, or synthesised in the laboratory," together with the means...

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