1. GE weapon research offensive and indefensible
2. U.S. GE Anthrax Plan Worries Russians
3. GM crop with human genes growing in farming heartland
1. Secret Weapon Research
The New York Times, September 7, 2001
To the Editor: Your revelations about the United States' secret biological weapons research (front page, Sept. 4) recall the most tragic chapters in the development of nuclear weapons. Once again, in the name of pursuing a worst-case scenario of what an enemy could do to us, we ourselves take the lead in developing new weapons that endanger all. Our program only legitimizes others. There is a particular fallacy in genetically engineering new strains of disease. Biological diversity makes it unlikely that an enemy's creation would exactly match ours. Thus, any vaccine we develop will be useful only with our own germ -- for example, protecting our troops if we used the germ offensively. Whatever its intent, the military's program is objectively offensive and indefensible. DAVID KEPPEL
Bloomington, Ind., Sept. 4, 2001 http://www.nytimes.com
U.S. Anthrax Plan Worries Russians
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
September 5, 2001
MOSCOW (AP) -- Russian experts voiced concern Wednesday about U.S. plans develop a potentially more lethal version of the bacterium that causes deadly anthrax, but the government refrained from immediate reaction.
The Pentagon confirmed its intention Tuesday to conduct the research once legal reviews have been completed and the U.S. Congress has been informed.
The plan was first reported by The New York Times, which said it was part of a broader research effort to improve U.S. defenses against biological agents.
Despite assertions by U.S. officials that the research was strictly defensive, some experts have pointed out that such work could violate the 1972 global ban on developing or acquiring biological weapons.
``It's not prohibited to develop vaccines against biological weapons, but developing a new strain of anthrax would be a violation of the ban,'' said Alexander Gorbovsky, an expert at the government's Munitions Agency, which is in charge of legal issues relating to the ban on biological weapons.
There had been no official government reaction to the U.S. research, he said in a telephone interview, as Moscow was still studying official U.S. statements on the issue.
The Russian Foreign Ministry had no immediate comment.
With the United States' rejection in July of a draft protocol intended to strengthen the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention, ``the report on U.S. research is causing concern,'' Gorbovsky said in a telephone interview.
The ban failed to make a clear distinction between defensive and offensive research and contained no mechanism of control, creating a wide gray zone.
``The Clinton administration supported the protocol as did U.S. allies in Western Europe, and the reversal of Washington's stance on the issue has vexed a liberal part of the American establishment,'' Alexander Pikayev, a military analyst at the Carnegie Endowment in Moscow.
``George W. Bush will now find himself in an awkward position, fending off accusations of breaching the ban.''
GM TRIALS TO FIND MEDICINE RAISE NEW ETHICAL FEARS; HUMAN GENE CROP FURY
JOHN INGHAM AND TOBY MOORE
The Express, September 8, 2001
THE first GM crop containing human genes is being grown in field trials in the middle of a farming heartland. The genetically modified rice has been engineered to produce medicine thought to be intended to fight diseases like cystic fibrosis.
Details emerged after the Daily Express faced fierce criticism from the biotech industry two years ago for "scaremongering" after revealing the existence of Chinese GM experiments with human genes.
Conservationists say the current trials, in California's Sutter County, risk contaminating surrounding rice crops destined for human consumption. And they say many people will have serious ethical concerns about using human genes in plants.
Charlie Kronick, GM campaigner for Greenpeace UK, said: "There is no excuse to allow drug-producing crops to be grown in fields where they can contaminate the environment and food chain.
"This rice and all the other GM pharmaceutical crops should be banned and permits for future open field trials revoked. If an individual wants to take a GM medicine, that is their personal decision.
"But past experience shows that once GM crops are widely planted there is no way of stopping them contaminating conventional crops.
"This means rice with human genes could get into the food chain. In addition, many people will find the idea of engineering human genes into a crop totally abhorrent."
Last year hundreds of farmers unwittingly planted crops contaminated with GM seed across Britain after a mix-up of supplies in Canada. At the same time a GM corn not approved for human consumption found its way into 300 supermarket products in America, forcing stores to clear their shelves.
The GM rice is being grown by American firm Applied Phytologics Incorporated. Greenpeace carried out a test in the field, north of Sacramento, and identified two proteins in the rice as human lactoferrin and human lysozyme, commonly found in breast milk, bile and tears. Lactoferrin is thought to be able to boost the immune system while other proteins can be used to treat cystic fibrosis and the lung disease emphysema. API chief executive Frank Hagie said last night that he "welcomed" Greenpeace activists "visiting" the company's research plot. He said: "API continues to respect the rights of all interested parties to share their views in regard to this important and safe technology. "This plot has been approved by the United States Department of Agriculture and complies with all regulatory requirements."