From Mon Apr 25 10:01:44 2005
Date: Sun, 24 Apr 2005 08:25:01 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: [NYTr] USA's “Bio-defense” Puts World Health at Risk
Article: 210448
To: undisclosed-recipients: ;

Gov't ‘biodefense’ increases danger

By Hillel Cohen, Workers World, 28 April 2005

Deadly flu virus shipped out

Live samples of a deadly flu virus were recently sent out accidentally to over 5,000 laboratories. Most labs were in the U.S., 14 others were in Canada and 61 were scattered among 16 other countries. As of April 15, almost a week after the laboratories were instructed to destroy the thousands of vials, about a third of them were still unaccounted for.

The virus, known to biologists as H2N2, is believed to be responsible for up to 4 million deaths in 1957–1958 in one of the worst flu pandemics of the last 50 years. A pandemic is a worldwide epidemic.

Meridian Bioscience Inc., a U.S. biotechnology company under contract with the College of American Pathologists, sent out “proficiency samples” to help laboratories test whether they can detect and identify viruses in specimens taken by doctors from ill patients. Meridian claims it didn’t know H2N2 virus was among the samples.

News of the accident became public more than a week after it happened, when one of the labs that received the virus warned the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the United Nations' World Health Organization (WHO).

The CDC urged all laboratories to incinerate the samples without opening them. The WHO had previously been asking all laboratories around the world to destroy H2N2 stocks and not to include the deadly strain in proficiency samples. But, just as the U.S. government simply ignores UN resolutions that do not conform to its policies, U.S. health agencies and laboratories do not feel obligated to follow WHO recommendations.

The CDC quickly announced there was no danger to the public. The agency, which once had a reputation for scientific integrity, has in more recent years come under intense criticism for being a mouthpiece for the Bush administration's political agenda.

In the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, the CDC took the lead in propagating the administration's scare campaign over smallpox. While health specialists everywhere else in the world knew that Iraq did not have smallpox weapons and that there was no danger, North American GIs were forced to submit to unnecessary and dangerous vaccinations.

Health professionals were urged to get the vaccinations, too. While the majority of doctors and nurses refused the vaccine out of fear for their own safety, the Bush administration's smallpox scare campaign, with assistance from the CDC, was one part of the “weapons of mass destruction” fraud used to drum up support for the war.

Spending billions of dollars on a hugely exaggerated threat of bioterrorism has ironically created very real threats to the health and lives of people here and around the world.

The anthrax spores that in 2001 were sent out in the mail and caused the deaths of five people have been traced to the U.S. military's “biodefense” program, even though the specific individuals responsible have not been openly identified. The billion-dollar bioterrorism program has been opening up many more such laboratories at universities and research centers, in spite of opposition from local communities.

Government, university and private laboratory officials all swear that the labs are fool-proof and fail-safe and that dangerous viruses and other pathogens could never escape. The latest Meridian fiasco shows how fail-safe these programs really are.

An April 12 Associated Press article by Malcolm Ritter tried to assure people that there was no danger of the H2N2 flu virus ever getting out of the laboratories. It quoted virus expert Dr. Adolfo Garcia-Sastre of Mount Sinai Medical Center as saying he thinks the risk of a resulting pandemic is very low and that “it will be very unlikely this will happen again.”

What the AP story did not mention is that Dr. Garcia-Sastre has a major financial connection to a controversial program to reconstruct and test the 1918 pandemic flu virus, which is believed to have killed more than 50 million people worldwide at that time.

According to the Sunshine Project, a progressive organization that monitors biological and chemical weapons development by the Pentagon and its allies, Dr. Garcia-Sastre is linked to projects to reconstruct that deadly virus and to infect laboratory primates with aerosol sprays to study the effects in experiments at the University of Washington, University of Wisconsin and at a facility in Athens, Ga. Other researchers are also working, with U.S. government and Pentagon support, on genetic manipulations of the 1918 flu virus and genetic alterations of avian flu virus.

Rather than making the public safer, these programs sponsored by the Penta gon and “Homeland Security” are putting the public in grave danger.

By building more facilities and multiplying the number of researchers and laboratories handling these dangerous pathogens, the “biodefense” program greatly increases the risk of a repetition of the 2001 anthrax attack or the accidental release of deadly viruses and other disease organisms, whether they be historic ones or newly created in ultra-modern labs.

These programs also raise the danger that, under the cover of “biodefense,” the Pentagon is rebuilding a biological and chemical weapons program in violation of treaties that the U.S. signed long ago.

Community and environmental activists who have tried to get information about what is being done in these labs and what safety measures are being taken have been denied access in the name of “national security.” Meanwhile, companies like Meridian will get richer while the health of the country and the world is put at risk.