Friday, March 28, 2008

Secrecy in Biodefense & Dangers to the Public

Secrecy in Biodefense & Dangers to the Public

Below is a excerpt from author’s Stan Cox’s book, Sick Planet: Corporate Food and Medicine. Here he talks about the dangerous and controversial Bl-4 National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) that is being built in the US. Source:

Playing both defense and offense……
All of the nation’s bioweapons work is by definition “defensive”, but in the national-security realm, the mechanics of defensive and offensive research are often indistinguishable. Under both the Clinton and Bush administrations, the US has resisted any upgrading of the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention by which 158 nations, including the US, agreed not to develop offensive capacity. Since 2001, US officials have moved forcefully to block any moves toward effective inspection protocols. A 2003 analysis by Nicole Deller and John Burroughs in World Policy Journal reported that “critics of the administration’s policy speculate that the main reason for the opposition to the protocol may be that the United States is reluctant to open its biodefense program-which includes activities kept secret for years-to public scrutiny.”
It’s no secret why the government doesn’t want public scrutiny: Its “biodefense” labs have stretched the definition of “defense” to include just about anything. In 2001, exactly one week before the attacks of 9/11, the New York Times‘ Judith Miller and two colleagues revealed that Pentagon researchers had developed plans to breed an extra-virulent strain of the anthrax bacterium; had built and tested a “germ bomb”; and had built a bioweapons lab in the Nevada desert out of materials bought on the open market. (Unlike Miller’s erroneous reports on nonconventional weapons in Iraq, this report was not debunked.) As one senior official told the reporters, the Pentagon “was pressing how far you go before you do something illegal or immoral.”
Given the thick curtain of secrecy that DHS will be allowed to draw around the proposed NBAF’s laboratories, its research could well be pushed far beyond those legal and moral boundaries, and no one would be the wiser — especially not the people who work or live in that unlucky neighborhood that finally wins the germ jackpot.
Stan Cox is a plant breeder and writer in Salina, Kansas. His book Sick Planet: Corporate Food and Medicine will be published by Pluto Press in April. They can be reached at:

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