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Bird Flu as a Weapon? A Bit of History of Biological Weapons
Take Two Placebos and Call Me in the Morning
"Where is the intersection between the world's deep hunger and your deep gladness?"
RAND advises pharmaceutical company on strategies in vaccinating low-income students

Jeffry John Aufderheide
August 26, 2009
( The pieces of the pandemic puzzle are coming together as the H1N1 Swine Flu hysteria is reaching new heights. A largely uncovered white paper published by RAND Corporation in March of 2009, sponsored by pharmaceutical giant Sanofi Pasteur, identifies parental consent laws, medical homes, and lack of access to medical records as main barriers “for immunizing low-income adolescents.” The solution proposed to Sanofi Pasteur? Turn schools into a vaccine wonderland.
The triad of barriers to mass-vaccinate adolescents which were identified in RAND Corp’s white paper are:
1. Parental Consent Laws
2. Absence of a reliable Medical Home
3. Access to vaccine registration information
There are many relevant quotes throughout the white-paper to support this claim. Here are just a few…
“It would appear at first blush that vaccinating teens in a school setting would be a
practical way to address the barriers posed by the lack of a medical home.
Schools are the only place where the vast majority of adolescents are found
consistently and predictably
([1] pg 19) (emphasis mine)
Many of the barriers we identified—while seemingly distinct—were tied to current
consent laws.
We found that the requirement that parental consent for
vaccination be provided in real time clearly limits the vaccination of adolescents
in venues such as schools, where parents and adolescents are not likely to be
([1] pg 27) (emphasis mine)
“Ambiguity and variability in consent laws also hinder the role of alternative vaccinators and the use of information technology to improve documentation, management, and communication. Current approaches for collecting consent … impede effective and efficient program management that might be possible with modernized parental consent laws. ([1] pg 27)(emphasis mine)
While immunization registries have traditionally focused on younger children,
improving their utility for the adolescent population has great potential to facilitate
improvement in the management of adolescent vaccination programs. One
natural partnership, not yet fully realized, is with local schools.
([1] pg 44) (emphasis mine)

According to the preface of the document, this endeavor started in 2007 as Sanofi Pasteur desired information concerning the current logistical climate for vaccinating the less fortunate. However, the title of the document, ‘Strategies and Models for Promoting Adolescent Vaccination for Low-Income Population’ is misleading. The recommendations that RAND produced for Sanofi Pasteur have ramifications for the entire scholastic population, as shown in the following passage.
“Although our original charge was to focus on low-income adolescents,we found the current policy and practice infrastructure supporting the vaccination of the general population of adolescents to be underdeveloped and thus unlikely to yield substantial increases in vaccination uptake among low-income adolescents in the absence of structural change. For this reason, we addressed the issue of adolescent immunization from a broad perspective, identifying more general approaches that can be tailored to low-income populations, and addressed specific issues and challenges for low-income adolescents where appropriate. ” ([1] pg 5)(emphasis mine)
It is critical to bring into focus throughout the entirety of this article who is the intended audience of the RAND Corp dossier: Sanofi Pasteur.
We must understand where this report came from. It most certainly did not randomly fall out of the sky and softly land on the lap of an innocent onlooker at Sanofi. Nor is it by chance RAND was engaged for researching this specific topic. Interestingly, the subject of addressing a pandemic influenza has been on RAND Corporation’s radar for some period of time and it would only make sense that a manufacturer of vaccines would have a keen interest in RAND’s insider knowledge.
You may be asking yourself at this point, “Who is RAND Corporation?”
“RAND Corporation(Research ANd Development) is a nonprofit global policy think tank first formed to offer research and analysis to the United States armed forces by Douglas Aircraft Company and currently financed predominantly by the U.S. government, a private endowment, predominantly pharmaceutical corporations, universities and private individuals. The organization has long since expanded to working with other governments, private foundations, international organizations, and commercial organizations on a host of non-defense issues.” [2]
It is well established that members of RAND Corporation are on the dole from entities such as GlaxoSmithKline [3, 4], and Sanofi Pasteur[1]. Other projects concerning health, population control and pandemic issues have been funded by The California Endowment [5], Robert W Woodruff Foundation [5, 8], William and Flora Hewlett Foundation [9], David and Lucile Packard Foundation [9], the Rockefeller Foundation [9], United Nations Population Fund [9], the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI)[5, 8], The US Department of Health and Human Services [5-7, 10, 11 ] , The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response [6,11] and the US Army[12] to name a few. Let us not be naive to the fact RAND Corporation has enormous influence in Washington D.C. as evidenced with the recent Gilmore Commission (1999-2003).
The Gilmore Commission “was a Congressional Advisory Panel…and…entered into a contract with the RAND National Defense Research Institute (NDRI), a federally funded research and development center (FFRDC), to establish the Advisory Panel. The Advisory Panel assessed the capabilities for responding to terrorist incidents in the U.S. involving weapons of mass destruction. Response capabilities at the Federal, State, and local levels were examined, with a particular emphasis on the latter two.” [13]
“Of the Gilmore Commission’s 164 recommendations, 146 have been adopted in whole or in part by the Congress and the federal government.” [13] Perhaps you would be comforted if you knew RAND recommended a National Vaccine Authority because private industry bears too much liability and risk? ([14] Appendix N, [15]) In a report to the congressional advisory panel, RAND decided to, “recommend the establishment of a government-owned, contractor-operated national facility for the research, development, and production of vaccines and therapeutics for specified infectious-especially contagious-diseases.” ([14] pg vi, 30)

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), a ‘competing’ pharmaceutical company, funded RAND in mid-flu-season 2008 to make a determination on how many Americans received their flu shot. Roughly 1/3 of the respondents communicated that the flu jab “wasn’t needed.” ([3] pg 1)

At the end of the 2008/2009 flu season GSK tested the waters again and funded a study to discover 38% of Americans took the annual influenza vaccine. ([4] pg 1) RAND exposed that roughly 25% of the respondents flat out said they “don’t need it,” ([4] pg 3) despite the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) specifically recommending an annual influenza vaccination.
The data from the GSK-funded study also showed that minorities were also less likely to be vaccinated with the annual influenza vaccine. ([16] pg 2) Shortly after both of the flu shot coverage studies were completed by RAND, ‘Strategies and Models for Promoting Adolescent Vaccination for Low-Income Population’ was published in 2009.
Remarkably, this data comes on the coattails of hysteria surrounding the H5N1 Bird Flu([11] pg 1, [19]), West Nile Virus ([10] pg 145, [20]), Monkeypox ([10] pg 163), SARS ([10] pg 155), Smallpox ([12] pg 198) and Anthrax ([17]pg 3, [18]) scares after 9/11. These aforementioned outbreaks were evaluated by RAND Corporation at some capacity.
Astute students who are ‘in-the-know’ are well aware of the prophetic messages of individuals such as Dr. Sherri Tenpenny as described in her book, “Fowl! It’s Not What You Think”, [21] in referring to the recent Bird Flu (H5N1). By example, Dr. Tenpenny refers to a patent application for the MF59 adjuvant that was going to be used for the Avian Flu Virus (H5N1). The same MF59 adjuvant is being used in the Swine Flu vaccine (H1N1). Here is an excerpt from US Patent 6299884 and then from a workshop on adjuvants and therapeutic vaccines, respectively.
“Any metabolizable oil, particularly from an animal, fish or vegetable source, may be used. It is essential that the oil be metabolized by the host otherwise the oil component may cause abscesses, granulomas or even carcinomas, or (when used in veterinary practice) may make the meat of vaccinated birds and animals unacceptable for human consumption due to the deleterious effect the unmetabolized oil may have on the consumer.” [22-23](emphasis mine)
“Carcinogenicity, we (Dr. Deborah Novicki of Novartis, another pharmaceutical company) have done no testing for the carcinogenicity of MF59 adjuvant or any of our preventive vaccines. We haven’t done it and we don’t plan to.” ([24] pg 391)(emphasis mine)

RAND also recommends funneling the responsibility of determining vaccine stockpile amounts be left to Homeland Security. ([12] pg vii) Ask yourself, when has your government been successful at anything and had a balanced budget?
When RAND speaks, America’s public servants willingly obey. ‘Lawmakers’ know who calls the shots. This is the history you must know as you need to understand that the recommendations RAND makes are made by seasoned veterans who are not simply giving arbitrary counsel.
1. Why are parents not identified as stakeholders?
As the story unfolds, the RAND corporation identifies the key stakeholders interviewed for this project for Sanofi Pasteur. The stakeholders are defined as “school nurses and health professionals, researches and legal experts, trade and professional association representatives, immunization coalitions and programs, third-party billers, nontraditional vaccinators.” ([1] pg 8 ) Parents and adolescents are noticeably absent from the aforementioned list. In other words, the ’stakeholders’ being interviewed by RAND for Sanofi Pasteur have the ability to identify bottlenecks in the vaccination campaign.
2. How can RAND be confused concerning parental consent rules given the breadth and scope of their past projects in addition to state education departments having strict consent procedures?
RAND frequently refers to there being, “Confusion and lack of clarity surrounding parental consent rules are substantial barriers to broadening teen vaccination,” ([1] pg 17) and seemingly contradicts themselves “…informants remarked that state education departments’ fear of liability drove strict consent procedures for school-based immunization.” ([1] pg 19)

Are you aware your child does not have to be vaccinated to attend school? In most states a religious or medical exemption are available. Nineteen states have philosophical exemptions. Simply validate this by viewing the CDC’s website on state immunization laws [25] or view the National Vaccine Information Center’s (NVIC) website.[26]
3. How do we know RAND Corporation is recommending to Sanofi Pasteur, a private company, to utilize and modify an existing mechanism developed by the CDC to promote ‘health’ instead of their own agenda(s)?
“CDC’s School Health Index (SHI) offers a framework for increasing school accountability for vaccine promotion and administration, either in the absence of or in conjunction with state mandates. The SHI was developed by the CDC in partnership with school staff, school health experts, parents, and other governmental agencies….the lack of a comprehensive focus is a barrier to promoting school accountability and moving toward more comprehensive school-based vaccination programs.” ([1] pg 37)
“A vaccine-specific module dovetails nicely with existing SHI modules, and would give schools a sense of where they fit on the continuum (from minimal education to vaccination on-site), and where there is room for improvement. As such, an SHI immunization module would help schools increase their involvement and accountability with respect to vaccine promotion and/or administration in ways that are consistent with available resources and levels of interest. In this way, the SHI could be a flexible tool for increasing school accountability for vaccine-related activities in the absence of potentially contentious school mandates, or it could help schools organize and carry out their responsibilities to ensure that students are vaccinated under mandates. “([1] pg 39)
4. What is RAND Corporation’s intention, specifically, for sharing this information with a company that vaccinates our youth for profit?
“To help providers and other key stakeholders address these issues (vaccinating adolescents), RAND has been developing a set of Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping and decision tools specifically designed for health care decisionmakers.” ([1] pg 41)
“Maps such as these may be used to facilitate the targeting of VFC vaccine, and prioritization of outreach and
education based on such factors as the proportion of students receiving free or subsidized school lunches, the availability of primary care providers participating in VFC, and the geographic clustering of Medicaid-eligible children.” ([1] pg 41)
“Because third-party billers can assess insurance status, submit insurance claims, and process credit card payments, they can engage in broad outreach beyond geographic areas with high concentrations of VFC-eligible(Vaccines for Children) adolescents and make vaccination more convenient for adolescents with and without health insurance.” ([1] pg 43)
5. Given the nature of past projects of RAND Corporation, it is concerning to know what specific recommendations they gave Sanofi Pasteur (and other business entities) regarding a public relations campaign specific to the ‘art of vaccination’. Is RAND Corporation and Sanofi Pasteur interested in promoting the TRUTH or their version(s) of it?

“..educated adolescents may be able to inform and influence skeptical parents and peers. ([1] pg 31)
“ is a potentially useful model for more directly engaging youth and developing adolescent vaccine “champions”. Ardent supporters of a cause, champions can bring about change by educating those around them and spurring others into action through local events, meetings, or publications…The vaccine industry may also provide opportunities for youth to organize local activities related to vaccination.” ([1] pg 35-36)
In the past, members of the RAND Corporation have been involved in researching how to best shape public behavior in avoidance of discrediting public health authorities in preparation for an influenza pandemic. ([17] pg 7) Accordingly, their recommendations involve gathering intelligence on community beliefs as well as recommending creating ‘active listening opportunities’ for members of the community. ([17] pg 8 )
Interesting terms such as “Tipping Point” are also used to convey the following message…
(Tipping Point is) meant to identify events, actions, or perceptions that strongly influence psychological reactions or social behaviors at the group or population level…Several individual and community level factors impact these tipping points and will influence the psychological or behavioral responses to pandemic influenza... ([17] pg 5)
“How a message is packaged and delivered, as well as how trustworthy and knowledgeable the messenger is also impact communications effectiveness in terms of behavioral response.” ([17] pg 7)
In summary, RAND Corporation has been touted as a preeminent ‘authority’ on questions of public health. Their past influence on the shaping of public policy is undeniable. Serious questions should be raised when RAND makes recommendations to a private company on how to supersede parental rights through the manipulation of local, state and federal law. Parents know what is best for their child, not RAND and certainly not Sanofi Pasteur.
“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”
-Albert Einstein

References: 1. Harris, K. , Maurer, J. , Lurie, N., “Strategies and Models for Promoting Adolescent Vaccination for Low-Income Population”. March 2009. RAND Corporation.
2. Accessed August 24th, 2009.
3. Harris, K. , Maurer, J. , Lurie, N. “Midseason Influenza Vaccine Use by Adults in the U.S. : A Snapshot as of Mid-November 2008“. 2008. RAND Corporation.
4. Harris, K. , Maurer, J. , Lurie, N. “Influenza Vaccine Use by Adults in the U.S. : A Snapshot from the End of the 2008–2009 Vaccination Season“. 2009. RAND Corporation.
5. Dausey, D., et al. “Designing and conducting tabletop exercises to assess public health preparedness for manmade and naturally occurring biological threats“. 29 May 2007 BMC Public Health 2007, 7:92 doi:10.1186/1471-2458-7-92.
6. Lotstein, D., et al. “Enhancing Public Health Preparedness: Exercises, Exemplary Practices, and Lessons Learned, Phase III. Task B2: Final Report Promoting Emergency Preparedness and Readiness for Pandemic Influenza (PREPARE for PI) Pilot Quality Improvement Learning Collaborative“. June 2007. RAND Corporation.
7. Aledort, J., et al. “Facilitated Look Backs: A New Quality Improvement Tool for Management of Routine Annual
and Pandemic Influenza”.2006. RAND Corporation.
8. Jackson, B., et al. “Bioterrorism with Zoonotic Disease: Public Health Preparedness Lessons from a Multiagency Exercise.” Biosecurity and Bioterrorism: Biodefense Strategy, Practice and Science Volume 4, Number 3, 2006.
9. Bloom D., et al. “The Demographic Dividend: A New Perspective on the Economic Consequences of Population Change.” 2003. RAND Corporation.
10. Stoto, M., et al. “Learning from Experience: The Public Health Response to West Nile Virus, SARS, Monkeypox, and Hepatitis A Outbreaks in the United States. 2005. RAND Corporation.
11. Moore, M., et al. “Improving Global Influenza Surveillance: Strategies for the US Government.” February 2007. RAND Corporation.
12. Olmsted, S. et al. “Use of an Electronic Monitoring System for Self-Reporting Smallpox Vaccine Reactions.” Biosecurity and Bioterrorism:Biodefense Strategy, Practice, and Science Volume 3, Number 3, 2005.
13. Gilmore Commission (1999-2003). Accessed 08/19/2009.
14. “Third Annual Report To the President and the Congress of the Advisory Panel to Assess Domestic Response Capabilities for Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction”. December 15, 2001. – This document is a product of the Advisory Panel and NOT RAND Corporation although the link goes to the document hosted on RAND’s website.
15. Testimony of Michael A. Wermuth Senior Policy Analyst The RAND Corporation and Executive Project Director Advisory Panel to Assess Domestic Response Capabilities for Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction Before the Committee on the Judiciary Council of the District of Columbia February 6, 2004.
16. Harris, K. , Maurer, J. , Lurie, N. “Influenza Vaccine Use by Adults in the U.S. : Detailed Survey Data Tables for the 2008–2009 Vaccination Season“. 2009. RAND Corporation.
17. Reissman, D. , et al., “Pandemic Influenza Preparedness: Adaptive Responses to an Evolving Challenge”. Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management: Vol. 3 : Iss. 2, Article 13. 2006.
18. Williams, A.A.,. Parashar, U.D., Stoica, A, et al (2002). “Bioterrorism-Related Anthrax Surveillance, Connecticut, September–December, 2001,” Emerging Infectious Diseases, Vol. 8, No. 10, 1078-1082, October 2002. Available from: URL:
19. United Nations (2005-09-29). “Press Conference By UN System Senior Coordinator For Avian, Human Influenza”. Accessed 08/19/2009.
20. “West Nile virus activity—United States, 2007″. MMWR Morb. Mortal. Wkly. Rep. 57 (26): 720–3. July 2008. PMID 18600197.
21. Tenpenny, S. “Fowl! Bird Flu: It’s Not What You Think“.
22. Tenpenny, S. “FOWL! It’s Not What You Think.” PDF Presentation. Slide 21. Accessed 08/19/2009.
23. “United States Patent 6299884. Adjuvant formulation comprising a submicron oil droplet emulsion” Patent Storm. 9 October 2001.
24. Workshop on Adjuvants and Adjuvanted Preventative and Therapeutic Vaccines. Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008. Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease.
25. CDC information on State Vaccine Exemptions. Accessed 08/19/09.
26. State Laws listed on NVIC’s website. Accessed August 24th, 2009.
"Where is the intersection between the world's deep hunger and your deep gladness?"
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[Image: blank.gif] Biowar for Dummies
by Paul Boutin

How hard is it to build your own weapon of mass destruction? We take a crash course in supervirus engineering to find out.

Originally published on Paul Boutin blog February 22, 2006. Reprinted with permission on July 11, 2006.
Anthrax. Smallpox. Ebola. For thriller writers and policy crusaders, biological warfare was a standard what-if scenario long before anyone mailed anthrax to government and media offices in 2001. Pentagon war games like Dark Winter, held just before 9/11, and this year's Atlantic Storm suggested that terrorists could unleash germs with the killing power of a nuclear weapon.
Scientists, though, have always been skeptical. Only massive, state-sponsored programs—not terrorist cells or lone kooks—pose a plausible threat, they say. As the head of the Federation of American Scientists working group on bioweapons put it in a 2002 Los Angeles Times op-ed: "A significant bioterror attack today would require the support of a national program to succeed."
Or not. A few months ago, Roger Brent, a geneticist who runs a California biotech firm, sent me an unpublished paper in which he wrote that genetically engineered bioweapons developed by small teams are a bigger threat than suitcase nukes.
Brent is one of a growing number of researchers who believe that a bioterrorist wouldn't need a team of virologists and state funding. He says advances in DNA-hacking technology have reached the point where an evil lab assistant with the right resources could do the job.
Gene hackers could make artificial smallpox—or worse—from standard lab supplies.

I decided to call him on it. I hadn't set foot in a lab since high school. Could I learn to build a bioweapon? What would I need? What would it cost? Could I set up shop without raising suspicions? And, most important, would it work?
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"An advanced grad student could do it." —Roger Brent, head of the Molecular Sciences Institute in Berkeley, California.
To find out, I meet with Brent at the Molecular Sciences Institute, his company in Berkeley. The 49-year-old researcher has a few million dollars a year in government funding and a staff of 25. He's the co-author of the must-read lab manual Current Protocols in Molecular Biology, and hardly seems like someone in the grip of apocalyptic fervor. As he shows me around the lab—a few quiet rooms of workbenches, pipette stands, pinky-sized test tubes and the odd PowerBook—we plan our attack.
Experts used to think that distributing a killer germ would require a few vats and a crop duster. Brent and I have a different idea. We'll infect a suicidal patient zero and hand him a round-the-world plane ticket. But we need a dangerous virus—smallpox, maybe. We won't be able to steal a sample; we'll have to make our own.
Too dangerous, Brent says. He gives me a proxy mission: Modify something mundane into something strange. In this case, rejigger standard brewer's yeast to manufacture a glowing cyan-colored protein usually found in jellyfish.
Great. I wanted to make something as lethal as an A-bomb, and instead I'm brewing ultraviolet beer.
Brent smiles and shrugs at my disappointment. "All life is one," he says, and he's not just being Zen. All over the world, laboratories like Brent's splice genes—the techniques are as common as the Pyrex beaker, and getting easier every day. Getting yeast to sport blue genes takes the same skills and gear as adding the genes for something toxic. DNA is just the stuff that tells cells what proteins to make—the only real difference between being able to insert a single gene and inserting all the genes that make a virus is experience.
I start my to-do list: I have to acquire the right equipment. I have to track down the genetic sequence I want, then learn how to make the gene. Then I have to get it into the yeast. Brent offers me lab space and staff advice, but insists that I do the work myself. And not everyone has the knack, he says. "Some people are natural-born labsters, some aren't." I know what he means. I used to be a software engineer, and in that field, procedures are well documented and the source code is readily available, but some people just aren't hackers.
It's time to find out what kind of genetic engineer I am.
Making DNA turns out to be easy if you have the right hardware. The critical piece of gear is a DNA synthesizer. Brent already has one, a yellowing plastic machine the size of an office printer, called an ABI 394. "So, what kind of authorization do I need to buy this equipment?" I ask.
"I suggest you start by typing 'used DNA synthesizer' into Google," Brent says.
I hit eBay first, where ABI 394s go for about $5,000. Anything I can't score at an auction is available for a small markup at sites like Two days later I have a total: $29,700—taxes and shipping not included. Nucleosides (the A, C, T, G genetic building blocks) and other chemicals for the synthesizer cost more than the hardware—in the end, a single base pair of DNA runs about a buck to make. Enough raw material to build, say, the smallpox genome would take just over $200,000.
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The ABI 394 synthesizer.
Think of it as an inkjet printer for DNA.
The real cost of villainy is in overhead. Even with the ready availability of equipment, you still need space, staff, and time. Brent guesses he would need a couple million dollars to whip up a batch of smallpox from scratch. No need for state sponsors or stolen top-secret germ samples. "An advanced grad student could do it," Brent says. Especially with the help of some high schoolers who actually went to lab classes.
But how would I find the gene sequence? Simple. I went to the Web site of the National Center for Biotechnology Information (no password required) and downloaded the DNA sequence for a 770-base pair gene called the Enhanced Cyan Fluorescent Protein. That's what Brent wanted me to program into my yeast. It took me about 15 minutes to find. Far easier to track down was the 200,000-base pair sequence for smallpox. Only two known samples of smallpox exist; the blueprints are free online.
It's glowing. Is that good?

I load my nucleosides into the ABI 394, and it's as easy as replacing a toner cartridge. I transmit a test sequence from my Mac and go to lunch. When I come back, I have a custom strand of genetic material waiting for me. This is the anyone-on-Slashdot-can-do-it part of the job.
These days, many labs don't even bother synthesizing their own genes. They order nucleotide chains online. That's right: mail-order genes. Just to test this out, I buy a sequence from MWG Biotech in High Point, North Carolina, and have it shipped to my house. Three days later, I'm sitting on the train to Berkeley holding a FedEx box. MWG didn't do anything wrong, but not long ago New Scientist magazine approached sixteen other custom DNA shops to find out if they scan incoming orders. Could a terrorist order a killer virus piece by piece? Only five of the sixteen said they screen every sequence.
Still, mail-order is cheating. If you were a smart terrorist, you'd make the thing yourself to avoid suspicion. You can't order smallpox, but anyone's allowed to buy raw genetic material and lab equipment—the government only monitors certain radioactive, toxic, or otherwise scary substances.
Getting living cells to absorb synthetic genes is where biotech stops looking like IT and turns into French cooking. The process, called transformation, happens in nature only rarely; it's part of the way microorganisms evolve. In the lab, you can improve the odds it'll work by softening up the host cells with chemicals and removing sections of their DNA with tailor-made enzymes. Douse the hosts with synthetic DNA and some fraction of them slurp it up. And some fraction of those start making the protein that the gene codes for. It doesn't matter if it's jellyfish fluorescence or smallpox (though obviously smallpox is more complicated).
It sounds like submicroscopic surgery, but all you do is squirt chemicals into a culture dish and let it all soak overnight. In the morning you come back to see if it worked or, more likely, didn't. My first batch flops. My second, too. One of the MSI researchers offers to break Brent's rules and do it for me while I watch. It doesn't work for him, either.
Eventually, we fumble our way to a plastic dish full of translucent goop. If I'd been working on smallpox—and really committed to my cause—this would have been the part where I'd inject a lab animal with the stuff to see if it got sick. Then I'd give myself a dose and head off on a days-long, multi-airport, transnational suicide run. But it was just yeast. Set on top of a black light, it glowed an eerie bright blue, like a Jimi Hendrix poster. My creation... lived.
Biotech's growth curves
leave Moore's Law in the dust.

Would the nations of the world kneel before my awesome power? I asked an expert. Three years ago, Eckard Wimmer headed a team of researchers at SUNY Stony Brook that made live polio virus from scratch, part of a Defense Department project to prove the threat of synthetic bioweapons. So how much of a leap is that from cyan-tinged yeast?
"A simple laboratory technician would have trouble," he says. With smallpox, "the virus is very large and brings with it enzymes that it needs to proliferate. If you just made the genome and put it into a cell, nothing would happen."
In the wild, viruses hijack host cells and turn them into virus replication factories. Wimmer was sure any one of the 2,847 members of the American Society for Virology could figure out how to do the same.
Soon, though, I might not even need that expertise. DNA synthesis is following a kind of accelerated Moore's law—the faster and easier it gets, the faster and easier it gets. Last year, a group of researchers synthesized DNA strands of more than 300,000 base pairs—longer than the smallpox genome—using a method that eliminates most of the shake-and-bake lab steps I'd spent weeks learning.
The rush toward DIY genetics is reflected in so-called Carlson curves, plotted by Rob Carlson, a physicist-turned-biologist (and Brent's former lab partner at MSI) who worked them out in 2003. "Within a decade," Carlson wrote in the journal Biosecurity and Bioterrorism, "a single person could sequence or synthesize all the DNA describing all the people on the planet many times over in an eight-hour day."
Today, when he's not tinkering with cellular-scale measurement gadgets at the University of Washington, Carlson designs custom proteins on a computer in his Seattle home. According to his calculations, if the current pace of biotech proceeds for another decade, cooking up a lethal bug will be as easy and cheap as building a Web site. "You don't need a national program," Carlson says. "The technology's changing fast, and there's nothing we can do about it."
Even if he's wrong about the timeframe, if someone solves the problem of synthesizing RNA (the single-stranded adjunct to DNA), it would open the door to modifying influenza or retroviruses like HIV—and in 1918 the flu managed to kill 20 million people without any help from bioterrorists.
"If we do what we need to for biodefense ... We could, as a planet, eliminate large lethal epidemics." —Tara O'Toole, Center for Biosecurity
Bolstered by what scientists like Carlson and Brent are saying, bioweapon policy wonks are calling for an all-out biodefense program. Worried about bacteria and viruses of mass destruction, the federal government pushes nearly $6 billion a year toward research. Tara O'Toole, director of the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Biosecurity, says after-the-fact vaccines won't stop a plague; they take months to develop and deploy. She believes the only option is a general-purpose virus detector and destroyer, which has yet to be invented. The cost would be enormous, but don't think of it as just an antiterror tool. "If we do what we need to for biodefense, we're going to do an enormous amount of good for routine health care and global disease," says O'Toole. "We could, as a planet, eliminate large lethal epidemics of infectious disease in our lifetime."
Brent agrees. He's been tinkering on a general virus detector as a side project. "Of course I'd be thrilled to see a huge expenditure on defense," he says. "But the truth is, it'll probably take an attack to get us there."
We might not have long to wait. Every hands-on gene hacker I polled during my project estimated they could synthesize smallpox in a month or two. I remember that game from my engineering days, so I mentally scale their estimates using the old software manager's formula: Double the length, then move up to the next increment of time. That gives us two to four years—assuming no one has already started working.
© 2006 Paul Boutin

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"Where is the intersection between the world's deep hunger and your deep gladness?"
Flashback 2002: Australian Scientist Urged Government to Use Biological Weapons Against “Overpopulated” Countries

May 24th, 2010 Via: The Age:
World-famous microbiologist Sir Macfarlane Burnet, the Nobel prize winner revered as Australia’s greatest medical research scientist, secretly urged the government to develop biological weapons for use against Indonesia and other “overpopulated” countries of South-East Asia.
The revelation is contained in top-secret files declassified by the National Archives of Australia, despite resistance from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Sir Macfarlane recommended in a secret report in 1947 that biological and chemical weapons should be developed to target food crops and spread infectious diseases.
His key advisory role on biological warfare was uncovered by Canberra historian Philip Dorling in the National Archives in 1998.
The department initially blocked release of the material on the basis it would damage Australia’s international relations. Dr Dorling sought a review and the material was finally released to him late last year.
The files include a comprehensive memo Sir Macfarlane wrote for the Defence Department in 1947 in which he said Australia should develop biological weapons that would work in tropical Asia without spreading to Australia’s more temperate population centres.
“Specifically to the Australian situation, the most effective counter-offensive to threatened invasion by overpopulated Asiatic countries would be directed towards the destruction by biological or chemical means of tropical food crops and the dissemination of infectious disease capable of spreading in tropical but not under Australian conditions,” Sir Macfarlane said.
The Victorian-born immunologist, who headed the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, won the Nobel prize for medicine in 1960. He died in 1985 but his theories on immunity and “clonal selection” provided the basis for modern biotechnology and genetic engineering.
On December 24, 1946, the secretary of the Department of Defence, F.G. Shedden, wrote to Macfarlane Burnet saying Australia could not ignore the fact that many countries were conducting intense research on biological warfare and inviting him to a meeting of top military officers to discuss the question.
The minutes of a meeting in January, 1947, reveal that Sir Macfarlane argued that Australia’s temperate climate could give it a significant military advantage.
“The main contribution of local research so far as Australia is concerned might be to study intensively the possibilities of biological warfare in the tropics against troops and civil populations at a relatively low level of hygiene and with correspondingly high resistance to the common infectious diseases,” he told the meeting.
In September, 1947, Sir Macfarlane was invited to join a chemical and biological warfare subcommittee of the New Weapons and Equipment Development Committee.
He prepared a secret report titled Note on War from a Biological Angle suggesting that biological warfare could be a powerful weapon to help defend a thinly populated Australia.
Sir Macfarlane also urged the government to encourage universities to research those branches of biological science that had a special bearing on biological warfare.
A clinically scientific approach is evident in a note he wrote in June, 1948.
He said a successful attack with a microbiological agent on a large population would have such a devastating impact that its use was extremely unlikely while both sides were capable of retaliation.
“The main strategic use of biological warfare may well be to administer the coup de grace to a virtually defeated enemy and compel surrender in the same way that the atomic bomb served in 1945.
“Its use has the tremendous advantage of not destroying the enemy’s industrial potential which can then be taken over intact.
“Overt biological warfare might be used to enforce surrender by psychological rather than direct destructive measures.”
The minutes of a meeting at Melbourne’s Victoria Barracks in 1948 noted that Sir Macfarlane “was of the opinion that if Australia undertakes work in this field it should be on the tropical offensive side rather than the defensive. There was very little known about biological attack on tropical crops.”
After visiting the UK in 1950 and examining the British chemical and biological warfare research effort, Sir Macfarlane told the committee that the initiation of epidemics among enemy populations had usually been discarded as a means of waging war because it was likely to rebound on the user.
“In a country of low sanitation the introduction of an exotic intestinal pathogen, e.g. by water contamination, might initiate widespread dissemination,” he said.
“Introduction of yellow fever into a country with appropriate mosquito vectors might build up into a disabling epidemic before control measures were established.”
The subcommittee recommended that “the possibilities of an attack on the food supplies of S-E Asia and Indonesia using B.W. agents should be considered by a small study group”.
It 1951 it recommended that “a panel reporting to the chemical and biological warfare subcommittee should be authorised to report on the offensive potentiality of biological agents likely to be effective against the local food supplies of South-East Asia and Indonesia”.
Dr Dorling said that while Sir Macfarlane was a great Australian he was also a product of times when many Australians held deep fears about more populous Asian countries.
He said the Menzies government was more interested in trying to acquire nuclear weapons. “Fortunately this also proved impracticable and Australia never acquired a weapon of mass destruction.”
The secretary of the Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies, Peter French, said he had not yet seen the files but the whole notion of biological warfare was something that Australian scientists would not be comfortable with today. “Viewed through today’s eyes it is clearly an abhorrent suggestion,” Dr French said.
"Where is the intersection between the world's deep hunger and your deep gladness?"

Document confirms germ warfare by Imperial Japanese Army

October 29, 2011 Tweet

A classified document has been uncovered that provides further evidence that the Imperial Japanese Army used plague-infected fleas as biological weapons in China between 1940 and 1942.
An operations journal written by a high-ranking army officer found in 1993 had passages related to germ warfare, but the latest discovery is of a public document compiled by the research unit that was directly involved in germ warfare.
While the Tokyo District Court and Tokyo High Court have confirmed in verdicts related to compensation lawsuits filed by bereaved Chinese family members the use of biological weapons by the Imperial Japanese Army, the Japanese government has maintained the position that no evidence exists that such weapons were ever used.
The document uncovered is a report by the epidemic prevention research unit of the Imperial Army's medical school. A member of a citizens group based in Tokyo that is trying to uncover information about the infamous Unit 731 that was involved in germ warfare found the document in the Kansai-kan of the National Diet Library in Kyoto.
The cover of the document is marked "military secret" and also contains the name of a medical officer belonging to the epidemic prevention research unit and the date of Dec. 14, 1943, when the document was registered.
The report is about the effects of fleas infected with the plague bacteria and calculates the effects when the bacteria is spread during battle.
The document includes a list that describes the volume of fleas used and the number of people infected in six missions conducted in China between 1940 and 1942. The total number of infected people, including secondary infection, was 25,946.
The report appraises the plague bacteria as "the most outstanding weapon" and says about germ warfare, "it brings about psychological and economic panic."
There are two major parts to the reports compiled by the epidemic prevention research unit and about 800 documents from part two have been found in the United States. Those documents make it clear that the unit was involved in research on the plague epidemic in China.
The latest discovery is of 12 documents, including 11 from part one of the reports that include the more highly classified items.
The development of biological weapons by the Imperial Japanese Army first drew attention with the publication in 1981 of a novel by Seiichi Morimura titled "Akuma no hoshoku" (The Devil's Gluttony).
Subsequently, members of Unit 731 came out and admitted taking part in human experiments and the use of biological weapons in China. Unit 731 worked closely with the epidemic prevention research unit of the Imperial Army medical school.
The author of the classified document was a medical doctor who graduated from Tokyo Imperial University. An investigation by the U.S. military after the end of World War II stated that the doctor worked for three and a half years in Unit 731.

"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.
Quote:There are two major parts to the reports compiled by the epidemic prevention research unit and about 800 documents from part two have been found in the United States. Those documents make it clear that the unit was involved in research on the plague epidemic in China.

Offensive or defensive research?

I think we should be told......
"It means this War was never political at all, the politics was all theatre, all just to keep the people distracted...."
"Proverbs for Paranoids 4: You hide, They seek."
"They are in Love. Fuck the War."

Gravity's Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon

"Ccollanan Pachacamac ricuy auccacunac yahuarniy hichascancuta."
The last words of the last Inka, Tupac Amaru, led to the gallows by men of god & dogs of war
I believe these documents are not otherwise available online. Just available now. Someone has posted a number of original documents of transcript of Lt. Col Murray Sanders interviewing with Unit 731 doctors also CBS 60 Min. 4/4/82 transcript - on how US kept secret Japanese germ warfare experiments on POWs
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.

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