Designer Diseases?

Wordly Huffman whuffman at aol.com
Tue Aug 7 10:46:54 EST 2001

As somebody whose science knowledge comes from reading Popular Science
magazine and an occasional newspaper, it's my impression that
biologists can now root around in the dna of a cell, snipping bits out
and inserting other bits, pretty much like editing a text file with a
word processor.

Have things gotten to the point where biologists can change a
bacterium or virus so that it will become active only if certain
characteristics exist in the host? So that, for example, if somebody
wanted to diminish the number of blue-eyed people, he could alter some
deadly disease so that it did its work only in blue-eyed people?

If the state of the art isn't that far advanced, how soon will it be? 

If it can be done now, what kind of resources does it take: those of a
rogue state? a terrorist group? a single mad scientist?

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