Just another round of biological warfare

“Science is the whore of industry and the handmaiden of war.” - Edward Abbey

by Robert T. Nanninga

fter 30 days of an unrelenting media blitz of propaganda and fear mongering, my cynicism is all that's left in me. Not a day passes without one of the televised heads reminding those tuning in that this is a changed world. Whereas this is true in many ways, grimmer is the realization that very little has changed, nor will it. Oh sure, there are a few more security checks to deal with, as well as other public placebos designed to give the illusion of control, but no significant shift has taken place other than the shattering of America's sense of imperious invulnerability.

    Currently, the panic de jour revolves around biochemical attacks on civilians - as if that hasn't been the norm since the invention of DDT and other pesticides. Everywhere Americans go, they are subjected to a chemical soup that passes for air. In a world not at war, we are still under attack by the industries that grow rich pumping tons of toxins into the atmosphere. Most we consider mundane, if not completely necessary. Air fresheners, oven cleaners, paint, cologne, perfume, hair spray and furniture polish are just of the few chemicals we regularly inject into the community.

    Biological warfare has always been a part of the American experience, most of it self-induced.

    The indigenous tribes were the first to be subjected to horrors of germ warfare. Small pox-laden blankets where an easy way to reduce the number of people claiming the right to exist in the “new” world. In 1955, the Tampa Bay area of Florida experienced a sharp rise in whooping cough cases, including 12 deaths, after a bacteria withdrawn from the Army's Chemical and Biological Warfare arsenal was released, by the CIA, into the environment. Details of the test are still classified.

    In 1965, scientists for Dow Chemical began a three year study at Philadelphia's Holmesburg State Prison to test the effects of dioxin - the highly toxic chemical contaminant in Agent Orange - on inmates. On June 9, 1969, Dr. D. M. McArtor, then Deputy Director of Research and Technology for the Department of Defense, asked the House Subcommittee on Appropriations to fund a project to produce a synthetic biological agent for which humans have not yet acquired a natural immunity. Dr. McArtor asked for $10 million dollars to produce this agent over the next 5-10 years.

    In 1977, the US Army admitted carrying out hundreds of chemical and biological warfare tests, including at least 25 that targeted domestic populations. Previously classified records show that, between 1951 and 1967, the Army used disease-causing microbes in open air tests and knowingly discharged anti-crop substances into the environment. National security was cited as the reason.

    Far from coincidental, it seems that biochemical warfare is just a byproduct of the chemical industry. In fact, the companies producing substances to kill bugs and weeds are the same corporations manufacturing biological weapons for the eradication of humans. Napalm not only clears away vegetation; it also leaves a toxic legacy to those exposed to it. And yes, American troops are currently involved in the chemical defoliation of South American jungles in the name of national security, as it relates to the establishment's “war on drugs.”

    Agricultural by-products by far pose the largest chemical risk to Americans. It's not a coincidence that terrorists were researching the use of crop dusters to spread biological poisons in populated areas. That is what they were designed for. Tons of toxic chemicals are sprayed every year on fruits and vegetables grown in America, as a way of increasing yields and profits. DDT, which is banned for use in America, is still manufactured here and sold to developing countries without such environmental regulations. The DDT-laden produce is then sold back to Americans, who gladly eat it. After thanking God for the bounty of free trade.

    More Americans will die this month and every month as a result of smoking cigarettes than will perish from terrorism. More Americans will die this year in alcohol-related traffic accidents, yet alcohol is readily available and drinking establishments are required to provide parking spaces for those coming to drink.

    Chemical and biological warfare is nothing new. We subject our children to it every day; we advocate its use in the name of profit and convenience. Could the real issue here be that Americans are willing to poison themselves and the world, but only on their terms? Perhaps such ethical disconnect is what has brought us here in the first place.

    Robert Nanninga is a free-lance writer, producer and environmental journalist. A native of Vista living in Leucadia, he Chairs San Diego ZPG, as well as representing coastal North County on the Green County Council.