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Big Profits in Biowarfare Research (22/6/2007)

1.Biowarfare: Big Profits in Research
2.Chemo-attack: Agent Orange victims have day in court

EXTRACTS: ...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." (item 1)

"I am here to demand simple justice and dignity for victims of Agent Orange, both Vietnamese and others," said Bruce. "We have to hold those who provided these chemicals accountable. They knew." (item 2)

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1.The Big Profits in Biowarfare Research
Corporate America's Deadliest Secret
By SHERWOOD ROSS
http://www.counterpunch.org/ross06222007.html

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 authorized it.

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 already.

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 being cured.

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 "terrorists."

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 appalling kind."

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 sherwoodr1@yahoo.com

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2.Agent Orange victims have day in court
Libero Della Piana
People's Weekly World Newspaper, June 23, 2007
http://www.pww.org/article/articleview/11282/1/377

NEW YORK - In 1964 Nguyen Thi Hong, then a young woman of 17, joined the struggle against the U.S. occupation of her country, Vietnam. She knew that she might lose her life. But she had no idea that she would become sick and remain so for more than 30 years.

"I was exposed to dioxin during the war," Hong told reporters outside a federal courtroom here June 18.

Dioxin, a deadly carcinogen, is the most lethal ingredient in Agent Orange, one of several chemical herbicides used by the U.S. military over 2.6 million acres of Vietnamese countryside from 1961 to 1971. The U.S. sprayed more than 660 pounds of dioxin, mainly in southern and central Vietnam, but also in Laos and Cambodia. By way of comparison, scientists estimate only 3 ounces of dioxin in New York’s water supply would be enough to kill the city’s entire population.

More than 3 million Vietnamese suffer from Agent Orange exposure.

Hong miscarried in 1969. She then gave birth to underweight premature children three times, one born with a heart defect. Then things got worse.

"When peace returned, I moved to Bien Hoa," she said. Bien Hoa, a city in the south of Vietnam, was used for Agent Orange barrel storage during the war and is now recognized as a "hot spot" with high levels of dioxin poisoning.

After living in Bien Hoa for several years, Hong was diagnosed with breast cancer and cancer of the spleen and liver. She has cerebral anemia and cirrhosis, and has limited mobility due to bone metastasis and varicose limbs. Her legs are swollen and painful. She tests positive for very high dioxin levels in her system.

"I am rife with diseases," she said. "I am determined to tell my story in court."

Hong, along with Vo Thanh Hai, Nguyen Muoi and Nguyen Van Quy, testified before a U.S. appeals court here. The Vietnamese Association for Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (VAVA) is a party to the suit.

Muoi, only 24 years old, was born long after the war ended. Yet he suffers from Agent Orange as well. His father fought for the army of the Republic of Vietnam, the U.S. ally during the war. In 2003 he was diagnosed with spina bifida. He told the World, "I don't know if I should get married or not." He is afraid of passing genetic disorders or even dioxin poisoning on to his children. "I am very worried for the future," he said.

VAVA originally filed suit in U.S. court in January 2004. The class action suit charges Dow Chemical, Monsanto and 35 other U.S. chemical companies with liability for causing personal injury though their manufacture of the chemicals for the U.S. military. The U.S. government is immune from lawsuit in such cases.

The suit was dismissed in 2005, with District Court Judge Jack Weinstein ruling that Agent Orange was a "defoliant," not a chemical weapon, despite its use on civilian populations, and that the companies were not liable for the U.S. government's use of Agent Orange during the war. That ruling was appealed last year, and the court finally heard testimony last week. Hundreds of the victims' supporters filled the courtroom and stood outside with orange balloons and informational leaflets.

In a companion case heard the same day, U.S. veterans appealed the dismissal of a similar lawsuit filed on their behalf. Thousands of U.S. veterans also suffer from dioxin poisoning due to wartime exposure. Some received settlements from the chemical companies in the 1980s. Others remain sick without compensation.

Hugh Bruce, a Vietnam veteran and vice president of the New York chapter of Veterans for Peace, stood in front of the courthouse for hours while the judges heard testimony inside.

"I am here to demand simple justice and dignity for victims of Agent Orange, both Vietnamese and others," said Bruce. "We have to hold those who provided these chemicals accountable. They knew."

The Vietnamese Agent Orange victims attended public events in San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C., organized by the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief and Responsibility Campaign and co-sponsored by Veterans for Peace, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, the National Lawyers Guild and United for Peace and Justice.

In Washington, they joined U.S. Vietnam veterans in a visit to the National Vietnam Memorial, and met with Reps. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) and John Conyers (D-Mich.).

Lawyers said they hoped for a positive ruling soon.

More information on the campaign is available at www.vn-agentorange.org.

ldellapiana @cpusa.org

 

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