Originally published February 20 2008
Engineering Warfare: A Close Look at Biological and Chemical Warfare
by Nicholas Wurschmidt
(NaturalNews) In this article, we will take a closer look at biological and chemical warfare from a global perspective as well as the use of pesticides and insecticides and how they helped pioneer these deadly toxins used in modern warfare and bio-terrorism as we know it today. I want to discuss the different types of diseases and viruses that are commonly used and researched today and of the past. I also want to discuss what kind of chemical weapons are used in modern warfare. We shall take a quick look at the science of genetic modification and engineering to create a virus from scratch using the most rudimentary tactics and the diseases that pose the largest threat to man-kind.
There is a real danger to our generation and even more-so to up-and-coming generations as the populations grow exponentially and governments grow more and more powerful and look for ways to reduce population size and or keep the masses in line. These threats can be seen in scare tactics across the globe and I want to inform you on the validity of these different areas so you may better understand what very-near future may come.
Biological weapons (BWs) deliver toxins and microorganisms, such as viruses and bacteria, so as to deliberately inflict disease among people, animals, and agriculture. Biological attacks can result in destruction of crops, temporarily discomforting a small community, killing large numbers of people, or other outcomes. Several differences set BWs apart from other weapons of mass destruction like nuclear and chemical weapons. The release of an agent is not immediately detectable. There are systems that detect biological agents, but most have a delay between acquiring the agent and identifying it. The effects of an attack also are not immediately detectable. People may become exposed to an agent soon after its release, but the infection requires time to cause illness (the incubation period). Thus, one of the first indicators of a BW attack could be disease outbreaks. The effect of Biological Weapons, disease, can continue after its release. If a transmissible agent, such as the smallpox or Ebola virus, infects a person at the site of its release, that person could travel and spread the agent to others. This would result in secondary infections at areas far from initial release and unprepared for the disease.
Biological weapons have been a problem for society ever since their first recorded use in the sixth century B.C. According to the U.S. government, the earliest recorded uses of biological weapons goes back to the ancient Assyrians and the ancient Greeks, who used medicinal herbs to wreak havoc before the Christian era began. Another early adopter was the Mongol horde, which threw plague-infested corpses over the walls of a Crimean fortress they happened to be besieging in the 14th century. This was perhaps history's most devastating use of biological warfare, seeing as it may have caused the Great Plague in addition to very effectively wiping out its target.
Biological weapons have a long history of use. In 1346, the invading Tartar army catapulted the bodies of plague victims into the Crimean Peninsula city of Kaffa and infected its citizens. Granted, there's a limit to the effective delivery of plague corpses, especially in the age of intercontinental ballistic missiles. In 1763, British troops under General Jeffrey Amherst gave the Delaware Indians blankets used by people with smallpox, possibly infecting the susceptible native population. Japan contaminated food and released plague-infected ticks during their conflict with China during World War II. The 2001 anthrax letter attacks in the United States infected 22 people and killed five.
As you can see, the use of biological weapons has occurred sporadically for centuries, culminating in sophisticated research and testing programs run by several countries. Biological weapons proliferation is a serious problem that is increasing the probability of a serious bioterrorism incident. The accidental release of anthrax from a military testing facility in the former Soviet Union in 1979 and Iraq's admission in 1995 to having quantities of anthrax, Botulinum toxin, and aflatoxin ready to use as weapons have clearly shown that research in the offensive use of biological agents continued, despite the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention. Of the seven countries listed by the U.S. Department of State as sponsoring international terrorism, at least five are suspected to have biological warfare programs. There is no evidence at this time, however, that any state has provided biological weapons expertise to a terrorist organization.
A wide range of groups or individuals might use biological agents as instruments of terror. At the most dangerous end of the spectrum are large organizations that are well-funded and possibly state-supported. They would be expected to cause the greatest harm because of their access to scientific expertise, biological agents, and most importantly, dissemination technology, including the capability to produce refined dry agent, deliverable in milled particles of the proper size for aerosol dissemination. The Aum Shinrikyo in Japan is an example of a well-financed organization that was attempting to develop biological weapons capability. However, they were not successful in their multiple attempts to release anthrax and Botulinum toxin. On this end of the spectrum, the list of biological agents available to cause mass casualties is small and would probably include one of the classic biological agents. The probability of occurrence is low; however, the consequences of a possible successful attack are serious.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization handbook dealing with biological warfare defense lists 39 agents, including bacteria, viruses, rickettsiae, and toxins, that could be used as biological weapons. Examining the relationship between aerosol infectivity and toxicity versus quantity of agent illustrates the requirements for producing equivalent effects and narrows the spectrum of possible agents that could be used to cause large numbers of causalities. For example, the amount of agent needed to cover a 100-km2 area and cause 50% lethality is 8 metric tons for even a "highly toxic" toxin such as ricin versus only kilogram quantities of anthrax needed to achieve the same coverage. Thus, deploying an agent such as ricin over a wide area, although possible, becomes impractical from a logistics standpoint, even for a well-funded organization.
The potential impact on a city can be estimated by looking at the effectiveness of an aerosol in producing downwind casualties. The World Health Organization in 1970 modeled the results of a hypothetical dissemination of 50 kg of agent along a 2-km line upwind of a large population center. Anthrax and tularemia are predicted to cause the highest number of dead and incapacitated, as well as the greatest downwind spread. A government study estimated that about 200 pounds of anthrax released upwind of Washington, D.C., could kill up to 3 million people. Here is a list of all of the recognized Biological Weapons.
Traditional biological warfare agents and agents associated with biocrimes and bioterrorism
* Bacillus anthracisb
* Ascaris suum
* Brucella suis
* Bacillus anthracisb
* Coxiella burnetiib
* Francisella tularensis
* Giardia lamblia
* Viral encephalitides
* Rickettsia prowazekii
* Viral hemorrhagic feversb(typhus)
* Yersinia pestisb
* Salmonella Typhimurium
* Salmonella typhi
* Shigella species
* Schistosoma species
* Vibrio cholerae
* Viral hemorrhagic
* fevers (Ebola)b
* Yellow fever virus
* Yersinia enterocolitica
* Yersinia pestisb
* Cholera endotoxin
* Staphylococcal enterotoxin B
* Diphtheria toxin
* Snake toxin
* Rice blast
* Rye stem rust
* Wheat stem rust
(Includes agents which were used, acquired, attempted to acquire, involved in a threat of use or an expressed interest in using. Reprinted with permission from Carus WS. Table 6: Biological agents involved. In: Carus WS. Bioterrorism and biocrimes: the illicit use of biological agents in the 20th Century. Working Paper, Center for Counterproliferation Research, National Defense University. August 1998, revised March 1999.)
Now We Need to Take a Look at Chemical Warfare
A chemical agent is a substance which is intended for use in military operations to kill, seriously injure or incapacitate a person because of its physiological effects. This definition does not include riot control agents, herbicides, smoke or flame. When a chemical agent is used in a wartime situation, it is generally used to effect the ability of the enemy combatants to fight to be weakened either by slowing the combatant down with protective gear or through diminishing their health. Most chemical agents are not used with the strict intention to kill. There are three categories of chemical agents. There are Nerve Agents, Blister Agents and Choking Agents. The nerve agents are a group of particularly toxic chemical warfare agents. They were developed just before and during World War II and are related chemically to the organ phosphorus insecticides. The principle agents in this group are:
* GA - tabun
* GB - sarin
* GD - soman
* GF - cyclosarin
* VX - methylphosphonothioic acid
The "G" agents tend to be non-persistent whereas the "V" agents are persistent. Some "G" agents may be thickened with various substances in order to increase their persistence, and therefore the total amount penetrating intact skin. At room temperature, GB is a comparatively volatile liquid and therefore non-persistent. GD is also significantly volatile, as is GA though to a lesser extent. VX is a relatively non-volatile liquid and therefore persistent. It is regarded as presenting little vapor hazard to people exposed to it. In the pure state, nerve agents are colorless and mobile liquids. In an impure state, nerve agents may be encountered as yellowish to brown liquids. Some nerve agents have a faint fruity odor.
GB and VX doses which are potentially life-threatening may be only slightly larger than those producing least effects. Death usually occurs within 15 minutes after absorption of a fatal VX dosage. Although only about half as toxic as GB by inhalation, GA in low concentrations is more irritating to the eyes than GB. Symptoms appear much more slowly from a skin dosage than from a respiratory dosage. Although skin absorption great enough to cause death may occur in 1 to 2 minutes, death may be delayed for 1 to 2 hours. Respiratory lethal dosages kill in 1 to 10 minutes, and liquid in the eye kills almost as rapidly.
Blister or vesicant agents are likely to be used both to produce casualties and to force opposing troops to wear full protective equipment thus degrading fighting efficiency, rather than to kill, although exposure to such agents can be fatal. Blister agents can be thickened in order to contaminate terrain, ships, aircraft, vehicles or equipment with a persistent hazard. Vesicants burn and blister the skin or any other part of the body they contact. They act on the eyes, mucous membranes, lungs, skin and blood-forming organs. They damage the respiratory tract when inhaled and cause vomiting and diarrhea when ingested.
The vesicant agents include:
* HD - sulfur mustard, or yperite
* HN - nitrogen mustard
* L - lewisite (arsenical vesicants may be used in a mixture with HD)
* CX - phosgene (properties and effects are very different from other vesicants)
HD and HN are the most feared vesicants historically, because of their chemical stability, their persistency in the field, the insidious character of their effects by attacking skin as well as eyes and respiratory tract, and because no effective therapy is yet available for countering their effects. Since 1917, mustard has continued to worry military personnel with the many problems it poses in the fields of protection, decontamination and treatment. It should be noted that the ease with which mustard can be manufactured and its great possibilities for acting as a vapor would suggest that in a possible future chemical war, HD will be preferred to HN.
Due to their physical properties, mustards are very persistent in cold and temperate climates. It is possible to increase the persistency by dissolving them in non-volatile solvents. In this way thickened mustards are obtained that are very difficult to remove by decontaminating processes. Exposure to mustard is not always noticed immediately because of the latent and sign-free period that may occur after skin exposure. This may result in delayed decontamination or failure to decontaminate at all. Whatever means is used has to be efficient and quick acting. Within 2 minutes contact time, a drop of mustard on the skin can cause serious damage. Chemical inactivation using chlorination is effective against mustard and lewisite, less so against HN, and is ineffective against phosgene oxime.
Chemical agents which attack lung tissue, primarily causing pulmonary edema, are classed as lung damaging agents. To this group belong:
* CG - phosgene
* DP - diphosgene
* Cl - chlorine
* PS – chloropicrin
The toxic action of phosgene is typical of a certain group of lung damaging agents. Phosgene is the most dangerous member of this group and the only one considered likely to be used in the future. Phosgene was used for the first time in 1915, and it accounted for 80% of all chemical fatalities during World War I. Phosgene is a colorless gas under ordinary conditions of temperature and pressure. Its boiling point is 8.2°C, making it an extremely volatile and non-persistent agent. Its vapor density is 3.4 times that of air. It may therefore remain for long periods of time in trenches and other low lying areas. In low concentrations it has a smell resembling new mown hay. The outstanding feature of phosgene poisoning is massive pulmonary edema. With exposure to very high concentrations death may occur within several hours; in most fatal cases pulmonary edema reaches a maximum in 12 hours followed by death in 24-48 hours. If the casualty survives, resolution commences within 48 hours and, in the absence of complicating infection, there may be little or no residual damage.
During and immediately after exposure, there is likely to be coughing, choking, a feeling of tightness in the chest, nausea, and occasionally vomiting, headache and lachrymation. The presence or absence of these symptoms is of little value in immediate prognosis. Some patients with severe coughs fail to develop serious lung injury, while others with little sign of early respiratory tract irritation develop fatal pulmonary edema. A period follows during which abnormal chest signs are absent and the patient may be symptom-free. This interval commonly lasts 2 to 24 hours but may be shorter. It is terminated by the signs and symptoms of pulmonary edema. These begin with cough (occasionally substantially painful), dyspnea, rapid shallow breathing and cyanosis. Nausea and vomiting may appear.
As the edema progresses, discomfort, apprehension and dyspnea increase and frothy sputum develops. The patient may develop shock-like symptoms, with pale, clammy skin, low blood pressure and feeble, rapid heartbeat. During the acute phase, casualties may have minimal signs and symptoms and the prognosis should be guarded. Casualties may very rapidly develop severe pulmonary edema. If casualties survive more than 48 hours they usually recover.
Scientists have now assembled the first synthetic virus. The U.S. researchers built the infectious agent from scratch using the genome sequence for polio. Scientists are divided about whether a virus is alive. For those that think it is, then this synthetic artifact would constitute a simple form of life. Responding to criticisms that such research could lead to bioterrorists engineering new lethal viruses, the scientists behind the experiment said that only a few people had the knowledge to make it happen.
To construct the virus, the researchers say they followed a recipe they downloaded from the internet and used gene sequences from a mail-order supplier. Having constructed the virus, which appears to be identical to its natural counterpart, the researchers, from the University of New York at Stony Brook, injected it into mice to demonstrate that it was active. The animals were paralyzed and then died. The reason they did it was to prove that it can be done and it now is a reality. Dr. Eckard Wimmer is the leader of the biomedical research team and co-author of the study published in the journal Science. Dr. Wimmer stated this approach has been talked about, but people didn't take it seriously.
Now people have to take it seriously. Progress in biomedical research has its benefits and it has its down side. There is a danger inherent to progress in sciences. This is a new reality, a new consideration. The polio virus assembled in the laboratory is one of the simplest known viruses. It was very easy to do. The more dangerous smallpox virus would be complex and difficult to assemble. It would probably in the future be possible. Smallpox has been eradicated in the wild, but specimens are stored in the United States and in Russia. Assembling the polio virus showed that eradicating a virus in the wild might not mean it was gone forever because biochemists could now reconstruct those viruses from blueprints.
Following the terrorist and anthrax-by-mail attacks, U.S. officials became concerned about the threat of smallpox and arranged for the manufacture of enough vaccine to protect the U.S. population. He added that it was possible that viruses like Ebola could be assembled in laboratories, but there were only a few people in the world with that skill. Polio is on the brink of being eradicated worldwide and there are plans to stop inoculations against the disease after it disappears from nature. Dr. Wimmer said that this policy should be reconsidered. Stopping vaccination could lead to a generation of people highly susceptible to polio, enhancing its appeal as a weapon. The World Health Organization is planning to stockpile vaccines against a return of polio and Dr. Wimmer said that policy should be followed everywhere.
Some say that the AIDS virus was engineered. There is a close connection between the rise of genetic engineering and mixing of viruses in the early 1970s and the outbreak of HIV in the late 1970s. This connection persists in the form of the many unprecedented "emerging diseases" caused by "new viruses" that continue up to the present time.
In 1970 the discovery of a cell enzyme, called "reverse transcriptase" by Howard Temin and David Baltimore, allowed molecular biologists to detect so-called retroviruses in some animal cancers. It was soon recognized that retroviruses could be found normally in the genes of many animal cells, and that scientists could manipulated these viruses to produce detrimental effects on the immune system. In "species jumping" laboratory experiments, many viruses were transferred between different animal species and were also adapted to human cells.
As part of President Richard Nixon's "War on Cancer," genetic engineering of viruses became an integral part of the now largely forgotten Special Virus Cancer Program, conducted under the auspices of the NCI. Nixon also transferred part of the Army's biological warfare unit at Fort Detrick, Maryland, over to the NCI, thereby allowing secret biowarfare experimentation to be carried out under cover of bona fide cancer research. All this virus transfer and molecular manipulation was a biologic disaster waiting too happen. This culminated in a historic conference entitled "Biohazards in Biological Research" held at Asilomar, near Pacific Grove in California in 1973. Despite the biologic dangers, it was decided to continue this research.
By the late-1970s the War against Cancer and the Virus Cancer Program proved a failure with no cancer-causing retroviruses found in humans. The Program was winding down in 1978, at the exact time when government scientists were also enrolling thousands of gay men in New York City to serve as guinea pigs in the hepatitis B experiment that took place that same year at the New York Blood Centre in Manhattan. In 1979 the first cases of AIDS in gay men were reported from Manhattan. Five years later, Gallo, who had worked for the Virus Cancer Program, "discovered" the retrovirus that causes AIDS; and Duesberg, who also worked for the Virus Cancer Program, continues to declare that HIV is harmless.
The earliest AIDS cases in America can be clearly traced back to the time period when the hepatitis B experiment began at the New York Blood Centre. The Centre began injecting gay men with multiple doses of the experimental vaccine in November 1978. The inoculations ended in October 1979, less than two years before the official start of the epidemic. Most importantly, the vaccine was developed in chimpanzees – the primate now thought to contain the "ancestor" virus of HIV. Also downplayed is the Centre's pre-AIDS connection to primate research in Africa and also to a primate centre in the New York City area. The final experimental vaccine was also made by Merck and the NIH from the pooled serum specimens of countless gay men who carried the hepatitis B virus in their blood.
The New York Blood Centre is the largest independent blood supplier and distributor in the USA. In 1970, Alfred M Prince, M.D., head of the New York Blood Centre Laboratory of Virology, began his hepatitis research with chimps housed at Laboratory for Experimental Medicine and Surgery in downstate Tuxedo, NY. Until disbanded in 1997, Laboratory for Experimental Medicine and Surgery supplied New York area scientists with primates and primate parts for transplantation and virus research.
Founded in 1965, Laboratory for Experimental Medicine and Surgery was affiliated with New York University Medical Centre, where the first cases of AIDS-associated Kaposi's sarcoma were discovered in 1979. NYU Medical Centre researchers were also heavily involved in the development of the experimental hepatitis B vaccine, and the Centre received government grants and contracts connected with biological warfare research beginning in 1969, according to Dr. Leonard Horowitz, author of Emerging Viruses: AIDS and Ebola (1996).
In 1974 Prince, with the support of Aaron Kellner, President of the New York Blood Centre moved the chimp hepatitis research to a new primate centre called Vilab II in Robertsfield, Liberia, in Africa. Chimps were captured from various parts of West Africa and brought to VILAB. The lab also prides itself by releasing "rehabilitated" chimps back into the wild. One cannot help but wonder if some of the purported "ancestors" of HIV in the African bush have their origin in chimpanzees held in African primate labs for vaccine and medical experimentation.
The hepatitis B experiment, which inoculated over 1,000 healthy gay men, was a huge success with 96% of the men developing antibodies against the hepatitis virus. This high rate of success could not have been achieved if the men were immune suppressed, because immune suppressed people do not easily form antibodies to the vaccine. The experiment was followed by similar hepatitis B experiments using gay men in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Denver and St. Louis, beginning in March 1980 and ending in October 1981, the same year the epidemic became official.
In the mid-1980s the many blood specimens donated by the gay Manhattan men during the experiment were retrospectively examined for HIV infection by researchers at the NYBC. It was determined that 6% of the specimens donated in-between 1978 - 1979 was positive for HIV. By 1984 (the end of the study period) over 40% of the men tested positive for HIV.
The final fate of all the men in the experiment has never been revealed. However, the blood donated by these men is the oldest HIV-positive blood tests on record in the United States. The full story of this experiment and its aftermath are contained in my two books on man-made AIDS: AIDS and the Doctors of Death (1988), and Queer Blood (1993). One fact is obvious: There was no AIDS in America until the exact year the government began experimenting with gay men.
The most dangerous disease known to man is actually one that has not received much attention aside form the scare earlier this decade. It is the Avian Influenza. This is an infection caused by avian (bird) influenza (flu) viruses. There are many different subtypes of type "A" influenza viruses. These subtypes differ because of changes in certain proteins on the surface of the influenza "A" virus (hem agglutinin [HA] and neuraminidase "NA" proteins). There are 16 known "HA" subtypes and 9 known NA subtypes of influenza "A" viruses. Many different combinations of "HA" and "NA" proteins are possible. Each combination represents a different subtype. All known subtypes of influenza "A" viruses can be found in birds.
Usually, "avian influenza virus" refers to influenza A viruses found chiefly in birds, but infections with these viruses can occur in humans. The risk from avian influenza is generally low to most people, because the viruses do not usually infect humans. However, confirmed cases of human infection from several subtypes of avian influenza infection have been reported since 1997. Most cases of avian influenza infection in humans have resulted from contact with infected poultry (e.g., domesticated chicken, ducks, and turkeys) or surfaces contaminated with secretion/excretions from infected birds. The spread of avian influenza viruses from one ill person to another has been reported very rarely, and has been limited, inefficient and unsustained.
"Human influenza virus" usually refers to those subtypes that spread widely among humans. There are only three known A subtypes of influenza viruses (H1N1, H1N2, and H3N2) currently circulating among humans. It is likely that some genetic parts of current human influenza "A" viruses came from birds originally. Influenza "A" viruses are constantly changing, and they might adapt over time to infect and spread among humans. During an outbreak of avian influenza among poultry, there is a possible risk to people who have contact with infected birds or surfaces that have been contaminated with secretions or excretions from infected birds.
Symptoms of avian influenza in humans have ranged from typical human influenza-like symptoms (e.g., fever, cough, sore throat, and muscle aches) to eye infections, pneumonia, severe respiratory diseases (such as acute respiratory distress), and other severe and life-threatening complications. The symptoms of avian influenza may depend on which virus caused the infection. Studies done in laboratories suggest that some of the prescription medicines approved in the United States for human influenza viruses should work in treating avian influenza infection in humans. However, influenza viruses can become resistant to these drugs, so these medications may not always work. Additional studies are needed to demonstrate the effectiveness of these medicines.
There are many other threats out there like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome or SARS, the "Superbug" staph infection or sexually transmitted diseases. None of this may ever come to fruition, or we could all die tomorrow in a freak accident. This paper is not to incite panic but to merely inform of the potential dangers we are faced with today, whether engineered by the very governments that protect and serve or whether nature will battle us with bacteria's and viruses. The preemptive strike is knowledge.
NATO Handbook on the Medical Aspects of NBC Defensive Operations, "Part III - Chemical" - U.S. Department of Defense, Department of the Army, February 1996
NATO Handbook on the Medical Aspects of NBC Defensive Operations, "Part II - Biological" - U.S. Department of Defense, Department of the Army, February 1996
The Militarily Critical Technologies List Part II: Weapons of Mass Destruction Technologies (ADA 330102), "Biological Weapons Technology" - U.S. Department of Defense, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Technology, February 1998
Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories, 4th Edition - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health, April 1999
Hooper, Edward, Aids and the polio vaccine, London Review of Books, Vol. 25, No. 7, 3 April 2003
About the authorNicholas Wurschmidt is a student in Scottsdale, Arizona. He is a musician, painter and a writer. Nicholas is studying Business Managment and Politics. He is and Auditor in the Hospitality Industry.
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