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Gates Warns on Bioterrorism

Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates says that bioterrorism is a bigger threat than a pandemic or nuclear attack, the Telegraph reports.

He warns that new and easy-to-use tools like CRISPR make it more likely that a bioterrorism attack could spread a lethal pathogen to kill millions of people. "All these advances in biology have made it far easier for a terrorist to recreate smallpox, which is a highly fatal pathogen, where there is essentially no immunity remaining at this point," Gates adds.

Both UK's Nuffield Council of Bioethics and the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology in the US have warned that new tools could enable bioterrorism.

"While the ongoing growth of biotechnology is a great boon for society, it also holds serious potential for destructive use by both states and technically-competent individuals with access to modern laboratory facilities," PCAST said in November.

Gates also urges nations to monitor disease outbreaks in a bid to limit their spread. Some estimates have found that an airborne pathogen — whether natural or helped along by a terrorist — could kill some 30 million people within a year, he adds.

According to the Telegraph, he also calls on UK Prime Minister Theresa May to maintain the UK's foreign aid pledge.