|Volume 52 Number 6, March 26, 2022||ARCHIVE||HOME||JBCENTRE||SUBSCRIBE|
Concern about US biological research labs and the failure to publicly provide information on their research and the safe storage of the dangerous pathogens used, has long existed. A hearing was held in 2007 by the US House of Representatives on "Germs, Viruses, and Secrets: The Silent Proliferation of Bio-Laboratories in the United States". A report from the Energy and Commerce Committee says the hearing focused on the risk associated with Bio Safety Level - 3 (BSL-3) and BSL-4 labs where "research is conducted on highly infectious viruses and bacteria that can cause injury or death", like anthrax and Ebola. "The accidental or deliberate release of some of the biological agents handled at these labs could have catastrophic consequences," the report says.
According to the report, "No one in the Federal Government even knows for sure how many of these labs there are in the United States, much less what research they are doing or whether they are safe and secure." It speaks to the proliferation of the labs at that time, the $1 billion in funds from the National Institute of Health (NIH), and asks, "When it comes to BSL-4 labs, which are the labs that deal with the most serious diseases for which there is no cure, should we significantly limit the number of labs so there are fewer chances for an accidental or intentional release of these most dangerous substances? Has the proliferation of these labs reached the point at which there are so many labs doing this research that you actually increase the chances of catastrophic release of a deadly disease?"
That was in 2007, related only to the US. Hundreds of additional labs are suspected worldwide. As well, NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), speaks to military-related research on bioterrorism. "For more than 50 years, NIAID has led the nation's medical research effort to understand, treat, and prevent the myriad infectious diseases that threaten hundreds of millions of people worldwide. The NIAID portion of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget - received each year from Congress - supports medical research conducted on the NIH campus in Maryland, at the Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Montana, and at universities and research centres, primarily nationwide but also overseas...Because NIAID has broad experience, expertise, and success in developing medical tools to fight infectious diseases, it now also plays a leading role in the nation's fight against bioterrorism. The Institute has greatly expanded its research programmes..."
This includes construction, completed in 2020, of four new national facilities, which all include BSL-4 laboratories. These are located at the Army's Fort Detrick, in Frederick, Maryland; at the Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Montana; and two National Biocontainment Laboratories (NBLs), located at Boston University and at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. All of it reflects the integration of the military, public universities and public health institutes in these efforts, the results of which are often kept secret.
The Army's Fort Detrick has long been known as a place for brutal biological experimentation on humans, including prisoners and hospital patients, conducted together at times with the CIA. Various biological agents and torture were used for decades. In 1943, during WWII, it housed the "Army Biological Warfare Laboratories." Calling it now a national "Biocontainment" facility has done little to eliminate its well-deserved reputation as a research centre for biological warfare. As protesters back in the 1960's put it, "No rationalisation of 'defence' can justify the evil of mass destruction and disease," carried out then and now.
This history and current efforts, including launching a research agency modelled on the military's Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency, indicate how extensive and established US biological research and warfare is. It also shows the degree to which the military, public universities and public health agencies are funded and directed toward bioterrorism and similar military related issues. The levels of US deaths regarding COVID are certainly one indication of why people want to know how research is geared to providing for the health and safety of the public.
(TML Daily, March 25, 2022)