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Biology and Security

Instant Event Idea

Mission: Impossible II

Ex-IMF agent Sean Ambrose (Dougray Scott) has stolen the antidote for a deadly disease known as Chimera and is blackmailing the boss of the pharmaceutical company that has the disease. Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), along with some IMF colleagues and an international thief named Nyah Nordoff-Hall (Thandie Newton), must try to get the antidote back and destroy the disease.

Ethan develops a love interest with Nyah but must use her to infiltrate the villains, as she is the ex-lover of Ambrose. When Nyah contracts the deadly virus, the race is on to not only stop the villains, but also save Nyah's life. (link to online movie summary)

Suggested Ethical Questions for Discussion:

1. This movie centers around the "dual-use dilemma"--the ability to use important research towards disastrous ends. The killer virus was necessary to develop the "super vaccine"--was the risk worth it?

2. Another problem with the vaccine's creation was its corporate nature, since it was made by "Biocyte Pharmaceuticals". Should corporations be allowed to create such dangerous viruses, given the chance of theft? If so, how should they be policed? If not, how would we be sure they were following the law?

3. Ethan Hunt's job as a covert operative is flashy and stylized, but the use of covert operatives in halting terrorism is very real. Should we strike with operatives first, or only as a last resort? Is there any room for diplomacy or negotiation in a situation like this?

4. In this movie, the United States does most of the work in stopping the virus's release. Is this policy appropriate, considering the planned release on foreign land? Should the U.S. have a free ticket to act against terrorism worldwide? If not, what would have to be done to allow international cooperation? How would we know that other countries were not supporting the terrorists?

5. The fact that the main villain betrayed the IMF raises questions about who to trust. Every year, weapons become more powerful and secrets become more important, making the danger of one traitor even greater. Should the government have more power to watch suspected traitors and terrorists? Who decides who should be watched? How can we prevent abuse of this power?