Destruction of smallpox

Jerry Bricker lcjbrick at ANTELOPE.WCC.EDU
Thu Aug 1 09:44:57 CDT 1996

Dear all:

I recently read that the World Health Organization has postponed the
destruction of the the last vials of the smallpox pathogen until 1999
(the third stay so far received).  My question to all of those studying
and working to preserve biodiversity is what stand, if any, should the
systematics community take (or has it taken)?  If it is agreed that a
species that has caused immeasurable human suffering and wholescale
destruction to entire cultures (i.e., native American communities) should
be eliminated then where do we draw the line?  Does one species have the
right to determine whether another should be allowed to exist?  If so,
what criteria will be used in making the decision for or against forced
extinction?  If the species is percieved as cute and cuddly (pandas and
wolves) it will be protected but if it is ugly, slimy, smelly or
dangerous does it get the boot?

I don't recall seeing this topic discussed on TAXACOM, although it may
have come up before I subscribed.  In any case, it seems like a good one
to consider as it seems to me that it goes right to the heart of what
biosystematics is all about.  Any ideas?


More information about the Taxacom mailing list