Recent evidence about deadly tests of biological substances in Tbilisi, Georgia raised alarm about U.S. biological weapon research in foreign countries. European scientist are extremely concerned about a dubious research program, financed by the Pentagon, that seems designed to spread diseases to crops, animals and people abroad. The creation of such weapons and of special ways to distribute them is prohibited under national and international law.
The U.S. is running biological weapon research across the globe:
Bio warfare scientists using diplomatic cover test man-made viruses at Pentagon bio laboratories in 25 countries across the world. These US bio-laboratories are funded by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) under a $ 2.1 billion military program– Cooperative Biological Engagement Program (CBEP), and are located in former Soviet Union countries such as Georgia and Ukraine, the Middle East, South East Asia and Africa.
Until the mid nineteen-seventies the U.S. military tested biological warfare weapons on U.S. people, sometimes over large areas and on specific races. After a Congress investigation revealed the wide ranging program such testing was moved abroad.
Private companies use U.S. government controlled laboratories in foreign countries for secret biological research under contract of the U.S. military, the CIA and the Department of Homeland Security. Last month the Bulgarian journalist Dilyana Gaytandzhieva reported of one of these U.S. controlled bio-laboratories:
The US Embassy to Tbilisi transports frozen human blood and pathogens as diplomatic cargo for a secret US military program. Internal documents, implicating US diplomats in the transportation of and experimenting on pathogens under diplomatic cover were leaked to me by Georgian insiders. According to these documents, Pentagon scientists have been deployed to the Republic of Georgia and have been given diplomatic immunity to research deadly diseases and biting insects at the Lugar Center – the Pentagon biolaboratory in Georgia’s capital Tbilisi.
Al Mayadeen TV broadcasted a video reportage about the laboratory and its deadly effects on Georgian ‘patients’.
The question of what really might have taken place at the secretive US-sponsored research facility hosted by Russia’s southern neighbor was raised by the Russian military on Thursday after they studied files published online by a former Georgian minister.
The documents record the deaths of 73 people over a short period of time, indicating a test of “a highly toxic chemical or biological agents with high lethality rate,” said Igor Kirillov, commander of the Russian military branch responsible for defending troops from radiological, chemical and biological weapons.
It is not only the Russians and Georgians who are concerned about secret U.S. biological warfare research. German and French scientists recently raised alarm over another dubious Pentagon research project.
In October 2016 the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced a new project called Insect Allies:
A new DARPA program is poised to provide an alternative to traditional agricultural threat response, using targeted gene therapy to protect mature plants within a single growing season. DARPA proposes to leverage a natural and very efficient two-step delivery system to transfer modified genes to plants: insect vectors and the plant viruses they transmit. In the process, DARPA aims to transform certain insect pests into “Insect Allies,” the name of the new effort.
The scenario DARPA describes is quite complicate. If a crop, for example maize, were widely infected with some illness, a virus would be manipulated and applied to the crop. The itself genetically modified virus would genetically modify the crop to ‘cure’ the illness. Infected insects would be used to distribute the viruses across the fields.
The program is run by the Biological Technologies Office (BTO) of DARPA. It does not come cheap. At least $27 million have been committed to it. If the discussed program were for purely agricultural purposes why would the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which is part of the Pentagon, propose and finance such research?
Scientist from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön, Germany, and the Institut des Sciences de l’Evolution de Montpellier, France, along with legal scholars from the University of Freiburg point out that the method DARPA wants to apply makes little sense for the stated agricultural purposes.
The eminent U.S. magazine Science published their work. The scientists ask if the project is Agricultural research, or a new bioweapon system?
[A]n ongoing research program funded by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) aims to disperse infectious genetically modified viruses that have been engineered to edit crop chromosomes directly in fields.
In the context of the stated aims of the DARPA program, it is our opinion that the knowledge to be gained from this program appears very limited in its capacity to enhance U.S. agriculture or respond to national emergencies (in either the short or long term). Furthermore, there has been an absence of adequate discussion regarding the major practical and regulatory impediments toward realizing the projected agricultural benefits. As a result, the program may be widely perceived as an effort to develop biological agents for hostile purposes and their means of delivery, which—if true—would constitute a breach of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC).
It its response to the Science paper DARPA again insists that the program is for purely agricultural purpose. But the response does not answer the questions the scientists put up.
The mechanism of spreading infectious genetically modified viruses to genetically modify and ‘heal’ plants in the fields is itself full of problems and dangers. To use insects for distributing such viruses borders on insane.
If one has access to the targeted crop fields and if one has a genetically modified virus to influence the plants why would one use insects to distribute it? Why not use the well known targeted process of spraying the affected fields, just like it is widely done today? Only when one does not have access to the fields, when these are situated in a foreign country the U.S. has no access to, does it make sense to use insects for such purposes.
The idea that the real (and illegal) purpose of such U.S. research is biological warfare is not far fetched at all.
During the Korea War the U.S. dropped infected insects and rodents over north Korea and China to infect people with deadly diseases. Various pathogens, including anthrax, were used against the civilian population. During the Vietnam war the U.S. sprayed thousand of square miles with poisonous defoliants. It tested biological weapons on the people of Hawaii, Alaska, Maryland, Florida, Canada and Britain. In 2002 weaponized anthrax spores from the U.S. biological warfare laboratory in Fort Derrick were usedto scare U.S. politicians into agreeing to the Patriot Act. At least five people were killed. And why is the U.S. Air Force looking for synovial tissue and RNA samples collected specifically from Caucasian people in Russia?
Biological warfare programs are extremely dangerous. Not only to ‘the enemy’ but to ones own population. Infectious diseases and pathogens can spread around the globe within a few days. Genetic modifications can have unpredictable secondary effects. Viruses can jump over the species barrier. These are the sound reasons why such weapons, and research into using them, are prohibited.
The U.S. government should follow the law and stop all such programs. Even if only in the self interest of protecting its very own people.