Sunday, June 24, 2007
Corporate America's Deadliest Secret
By SHERWOOD ROSS
A number of major pharmaceutical corporations and biotech firms are
concealing the nature of the biological warfare research work they are
doing for the U.S. government.
Since their funding comes from the National Institutes of Health, the
recipients are obligated under NIH guidelines to make their activities
public. Not disclosing their ops raises the suspicion they may be
engaged in forbidden kinds of germ warfare research.
According to the Sunshine Project, a nonprofit arms control watchdog
operating out of Austin, Texas, among corporations holding back
information about their activities are:
Abbott Laboratories, BASF Plant Science, Bristol-Myers Squibb, DuPont
Central Research and Development, Eli Lilly Corp., Embrex,
GlaxoSmithKline, Hoffman-LaRoche, Merck & Co., Monsanto, Pfizer Inc.,
Schering-Plough Research Institute, and Syngenta Corp. of Switzerland.
In case you didn't know it, the White House since 9/11 has called for
spending $44-billion on biological warfare research, a sum
unprecedented in world history, and an obliging Congress has
Thus, some of the deadliest pathogens known to humankind are being
rekindled in hundreds of labs in pharmaceutical houses, university
biology departments, and on military bases.
An international convention the U.S. signed forbids it to stockpile,
manufacture or use biological weapons. But if the U.S. won't say
what's going down in those laboratories other countries are going to
assume the worst and a biowarfare arms race will be on, if it isn't
Sunshine says failure to disclose operations also puts corporate
employees involved in this work at risk. Only 8,500, or 16%, of the
52,000 workers employed at the top 20 U.S. biotech firms work at an
NIH guidelines-compliant company, Sunshine says.
Francis Boyle, an international law authority at the University of
Illinois, Champaign, says pursuant to national strategy directives
adopted by Bush in 2002, the Pentagon "is now gearing up to fight and
win' biological warfare without prior public knowledge and review."
Boyle said the Pentagon's Chemical and Biological Defense Program was
revised in 2003 to endorse "first-use" strike in war. Boyle said the
program includes Red Teaming, which he described as "plotting,
planning, and scheming how to use biowarfare."
Besides the big pharmaceutical houses, the biowarfare buildup is
getting an enthusiastic response from academia, which sees new funds
flowing from Washington's horn of plenty. "American universities have
a long history of willingly permitting their research agenda,
researchers, institutes and laboratories to be co-opted, corrupted,
and perverted by the Pentagon and the CIA," Boyle says.
What's more, the Bush administration is pouring billions in biowarfare
research while some very real killers, such as influenza, are not
In 2006, the NIH got $120 million to combat influenza, which kills
about 36,000 Americans annually but it got $1.76 billion for
biodefense, much of it spent to research anthrax. How many people has
anthrax killed lately? Well, let's see, there were those five people
killed in the mysterious attacks on Congress of October, 2001 ---
attacks that suspiciously emanated from a government laboratory at
Fort Detrick, Md.
One would think the FBI might apprehend the perpetrator whose attack
shut down the Congress of the United States but nearly six years have
gone by and it hasn't caught anybody. Seem a bit odd to you? Some
folks suspect the anthrax attack was an inside job to panic the
country into a huge biowarfare buildup to "protect" America from
Milton Leitenberg, of the University of Maryland's School of Public
Policy, though, says the risk of terrorists and nonstate actors using
biological agents against the U.S. "has been systematically and
deliberately exaggerated" by administration scare-mongering.
And molecular biologist Jonathan King of Massachusetts Institute of
Technology says, "the Bush administration launched a major program
which threatens to put the health of our people at far greater risk
than the hazard to which they claimed to have been responding." King
added President Bush's policies "do not increase the security of the
American people" but "bring new risk to our population of the most
In the absence of any credible foreign threat, Sunshine's Hammond
said, "Our biowarfare research is defending ourselves from ourselves.
It's a dog chasing its tail." Sadly, it looks more and more every day
like a mad dog.
Sherwood Ross has worked as a reporter for major dailies and wire
services. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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