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More Future Military: Pharmaceutical bioweapons and warfare

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  • genomik2 <lists@thecri.org>
    OK, I can see an argument that these drugs are more humane than bombs, missiles and nukes, but it still is pretty scary. Again, nobody seems to notice or care.
    Message 1 of 35 , Feb 12, 2003
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      OK, I can see an argument that these drugs are more humane than
      bombs, missiles and nukes, but it still is pretty scary. Again,
      nobody seems to notice or care.

      Perhaps the future will be defined explicitely by warfare. It has
      defined much of our history, but I was sort of hoping that as a more
      *civilized* society of tomorrow, we might be able to define
      ourselves by more humane terms.



      Pharmaceutical bioweapons and warfare

      An important set of materials on the use of drugs to wage war (which
      the US
      has said it will do, Rumsfeld is former CEO of Searle) can be found

      This site discusses the drugs that are developed for this use,
      conventions, regulations, laws and DOD policy, the lethality of these
      non-lethal agents when used in war settings (DOD: "Non-Lethal
      Weapons that are explicitly designed and primarily employed so as to
      incapacitate personnel or materiel, while minimizing fatalities,
      injury to personnel, and undesired damage to property and the
      and so on.

      HEre is another related story.

      The Sunshine Project
      News Release - 11 February 2003

      Pentagon Perverts Pharma with New Weapons
      Liability and Public Image in the Pentagon's Drug Weapons Research

      (Austin and Hamburg, 11 February 2003) - The conventional view is
      that pharmaceutical research develops new ways to treat disease and
      reduce human suffering; but the Pentagon disagrees. Military weapons
      developers see the pharmaceutical industry as central to a new
      generation of anti-personnel weapons. Although it denied such
      research as recently as the aftermath of the October theater tragedy
      in Moscow, a Pentagon program has recently released more information
      that confirm that it wants to makes pharmaceutical weapons. And on
      February 5th, US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld went a big
      further. Rumsfeld, himself a former pharmaceutical industry CEO (1),
      announced that the US is making plans for the use of such
      incapacitating biochemical weapons in an invasion of Iraq (see News
      Release, 7 February 2003).

      The Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate (JNLWD) and the US Army's
      Soldier Chemical Biological Command (SBCCOM) are leading the
      research. Of interest to the military are drugs that target the
      brain's regulation of many aspects of cognition, such as sense of
      pain, consciousness, and emotions like anxiety and fear. JNLWD is
      preparing a database of pharmaceutical weapons candidates, many of
      them off-the-shelf products, and indexing them by manufacturer. It
      will choose drugs from this database for further work and, according
      to Rumsfeld, if President Bush signs a waiver of existing US policy,
      they can be used in Iraq. Delivery devices already exist or are in
      advanced development. These include munitions for an unmanned aerial
      vehicle or loitering missile, and a new 81mm (bio)chemical mortar

      Many of the Pentagon's so-called "nonlethal" (bio)chemical weapons
      candidates are pharmaceuticals. Different names are used for these
      weapons ("calmatives", "disabling chemicals", "nonlethal chemicals",
      etc.). Used as weapons, all minimally aim to incapacitate their
      victims. They belong to the same broad category of agents as the
      incapacitating chemical that killed more than 120 hostages in the
      Moscow theater. That agent was reported to be based on fentanyl, an
      opiate that is also among the weapons being assessed by JNLWD. In
      US, pharmaceutical fentanyl is sold by Johnson & Johnson's
      Janssen Pharmaceutica. Remifentanil, a closely related drug, is a
      GlaxoSmithKline product.

      US military contractors have identified a host of other agents
      manufactured by a Who's Who list of the pharmaceutical industry. In
      2001 weapons researchers at the Applied Research Laboratory of
      Pennsylvania State University assessed the anesthetic drugs
      isoflurane and sevoflurane, produced by Syngenta and Abbott
      Laboratories, respectively. The same Penn State team recommended
      other drugs for "immediate consideration," some of which are in the
      chart below. The Pentagon is also interested in industry's new ways
      to apply (bio)chemicals through the skin and mucous membranes, which
      could bring previously impractical drug weapons closer to reality by
      overcoming technical hurdles related to delivery of certain agents.

      Incapacitating (Bio)Chemical Weapons Candidates Cited by Pentagon

      fentanyl - analgesic - Johnson & Johnson (and others)
      carfentanil - veterinary anesthetic - Wildlife Pharmaceuticals
      dexmeditomidine - anesthetic - Abbott Laboratories
      isoflurane - anesthetic - Abbott Laboratories
      sevoflurane - anesthetic - Syngenta
      pramipexole - Parkinson's disease - Pharmacia
      CI-1007 - experimental - Pfizer (2)
      lesopitron - experimental anxiolytic - Esteve Pharmaceuticals
      MKC-242 - experimental antidepressant - Mitsubishi Chemical Corp.
      ketamine - anesthetic - Pfizer (and others)
      diazepam (Valium) - anxiolytic - Hoffmann-LaRoche (and others)

      Questioning Industry's Role: The silence of the Pharmaceutical
      Manufacturers Association (PhRMA) and its members is becoming
      increasingly conspicuous. The Pentagon research described here has
      been underway for more than two years. It's no secret that pharma is
      queuing up for lucrative biodefense contracts; but does industry's
      enthusiasm for defense dollars extend to weaponsmaking?

      If the pharmaceutical industry assists or accepts weaponization of
      its products, it will negatively transform the public's view of the
      nature of pharmaceutical research. Yet PhRMA's silence raises
      fundamental questions about industry's commitment to peaceful
      research. Will it work to prevent its drugs from being weaponized?
      are weapons viewed as an emerging new market? Will industry
      with the Pentagon to design weapons? Military researchers want such
      collaborations. What if drug stockpiles are diverted into weapons?
      Will industry be complicit by continuing to look the other way?

      Liability: Serious liability questions will be raised if these drugs
      are used as weapons in Iraq or elsewhere. Scores of innocent
      died in the Moscow theater. Many survivors are likely suffering
      lasting, even permanent effects. If the US uses these weapons, more
      casualties are inevitable.(3) So long as the pharmaceutical
      does not make every possible effort to prevent the Pentagon's
      perversion of its products, manufacturers should be held liable for
      the damage that weaponized drugs inflict.

      (An extensive online archive of US research documents on biochemical
      weapons, including the materials referenced in this release, is
      available online at the Sunshine Project website.)


      (1) From 1977 to 1985, Rumsfeld was the President and CEO of Searle
      Pharmaceuticals. After Rumsfeld's tenure, Searle was bought by
      Monsanto, which itself was subsequently taken over by Pharmacia.
      Pharmacia kept Searle when it spun-off Monsanto's agricultural
      division as 'new' public company.

      (2)A merger between Pfizer and Pharmacia is pending.

      (3)A recent, concise paper explaining why these weapons will always
      cause substantial casualties has been published by the Federation of
      American Scientists. It can be downloaded at: http://www.fas.org/bwc
    • Chris Phoenix
      ... I agree that rights should be protected. But democracy is not enough. Venezuela elected Chavez fair and square, and Venezuela is daily becoming more of a
      Message 35 of 35 , Mar 14, 2003
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        Michael Korns wrote:
        > Why not stop when there is a Worldwide Democracy which protects the rights of all citizens? After all they are all our brothers and sisters, with DNA so close to ours that the differences are not worth mentioning.

        I agree that rights should be protected. But democracy is not enough.
        Venezuela elected Chavez fair and square, and Venezuela is daily
        becoming more of a total disaster; Chavez is a key contributor to this

        What about countries that elect theocracies? We may need democracy
        *and* separation of church and state.

        What if corporations are rich enough to buy laws, and do? (Note that
        they can do it completely legally, simply by buying enough advertising

        America is not just a democracy. We're a representative democracy. And
        we have a three-branch government with separation of power. And many of
        our civil servants are appointed or simply hired. And we have a high
        literacy rate and (at least traditionally) a fairly good media. How
        much of this do we need to export for a working democratic model?

        What about conflict of rights between two citizens? For that matter,
        what about deciding who's a citizen? Given the number of different
        religions and cultures in the world, I don't want to see one worldwide
        democracy. America is less than 1/10 the world's population, and even
        within America we can't agree on abortion, euthanasia, gay marriage...

        Let's take a really simple issue. Is it a violation of women's rights
        to require them to go out draped head to toe in ugly cloth without even
        a hole for their face? Sure seems like it. But here in America we
        require women to cover their breasts. Is this more than a difference in
        degree? Both cultures claim it's simply a matter of modesty.

        There are cultures--ours among them--that believe some information is
        bad. How do you decide what information is OK? We all agree (at least
        I hope so!) that NAMBLA and kiddie porn are bad, disgusting, and evil.
        But in some religions and cultures, a picture of two grown men kissing
        is also bad, disgusting, and evil. Would you force them to accept our
        ways, or would you accept theirs? It's easy to argue that adults are
        different from kids, but what's adult? In Austria the age of consent is
        14. I'm not arguing that there is no way to choose standards for human
        rights. But many questions have no easy answers. And it seems obvious
        that having people from one culture *vote* on what rights and
        restrictions should apply in another culture is not a good way to find

        So let's assume that "a Worldwide Democracy" doesn't mean that the
        world's citizens get a unified vote on laws to be applied globally.
        Then we're back to local democracies--which don't always work out very
        well. (There's the example of several African nations a few decades
        ago: "one man, one vote--once.") Even if we could propagate the
        American system to every country, and even if we could magically educate
        the diverse populations to participate constructively (a process that is
        badly needed in America as well), America hasn't always done well on
        human rights. In fact, we're still not doing well even by our own
        standards. And by other standards we're doing worse--to many societies,
        the death penalty is a clear violation of human rights. Our prisons
        could be improved a lot too. We don't use torture much, but why is it
        that no one worries about the fact that prisoners are routinely allowed
        to rape each other?

        I'm not saying democracy is bad, or even that we shouldn't try to spread
        it to countries that lack it. I'm just saying that it would not solve
        all human rights problems, even if we were willing to impose it
        everywhere. Even a country that's been democratic for more than two
        centuries still has serious problems.

        In fact, I can't think of a single moral theory that is globally
        defensible. Even the idea that human rights are paramount is not
        universally held. What would you say to a person who believes religious
        purity is more important than human rights? Other than "You're just
        wrong," and "This planet ain't big enough for the both of us?"

        Personally, I'm glad that the world's superpower thinks human rights are
        important. I'm glad we're working to export democracy--along with
        literacy and humanitarian aid. (But I blame us bitterly for blocking
        the export of birth control and cheap medicines.) And yes, I'm willing
        to tell a religious fanatic that this planet ain't big enough for the
        both of us, and back it up by whatever force is necessary to defend my
        freedom. (Whether the current use of force in the War on Terror is
        necessary or effective is a question I don't intend to get into.) But
        I'm a little bit less comfortable at exporting my beliefs forcibly, and
        I'm a lot less comfortable at the idea that I have a high moral right to
        do so.

        Of course I don't want to see a world full of what I consider barbarism,
        torture, and dehumanization. But in the end, it's not morals that
        instruct me to destroy the Taliban and free the oppressed women. It's
        simple empathy. In one, very real, sense, the Taliban have more morals
        than I do. So I get uncomfortable when people talk as though we're on a
        moral crusade to reform the world. I get the feeling that they are
        willingly transforming into the monster they're fighting.

        I have known many Christians who would agree with the following
        statement, modified from your statement above: "Why not stop when there
        is a Worldwide Church which preaches the rights of all citizens? After
        all we are all children of God, and all right-thinking people have
        morals so close to ours that the differences are not worth mentioning."
        I'm not sure that this is less useful or less valid than your


        Chris Phoenix cphoenix@... http://xenophilia.org
        Center for Responsible Nanotechnology (co-founder) http://CRNano.org
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