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  Columnist: William B Stoecker

Image credit: Diego Cupolo

Engineered plagues ?

Posted on Thursday, 15 July, 2010 | 4 comments
Columnist: William B Stoecker

Recombinant DNA technology, which combines DNA sequences not normally found together in nature, was pioneered by A. Dale Kaiser and Peter Lobban at Stanford University in 1972 through 1974. The technology became truly practical when Werner Arber, Daniel Nathans, and Hamilton Smith isolated restriction endonucleases by 1978. Recombinant DNA offered exciting possibilities: curing genetic illnesses in human beings and animals, or creating completely new plants or animals to serve Mankind. Perhaps, it seemed, tropical hardwoods like mahogany or teak could be modified to grow in places like the United States, or cacao, coffee, and tea. We get flour from wheat and fiber from flax; perhaps these plants could be combined into one that would supply us with both food and clothing. Mangroves, found along tropical coasts, can grow in salt water. Perhaps their genes could be combined with those of food crops like tomatoes or grain and we could grow our crops in sea water along dry sea coasts like Peru and northern Chile, or southern or Baja California. The possibilities seemed limitless, but it turned out that creating such things would involve multiple genes and was more difficult than expected. Some useful products have come from recombinant DNA, but not quite what we had hoped for. However, since the technology was developed, the world has seen a good many terrible and seemingly new diseases emerge. Are these just normal mutations of existing diseases, or illnesses that had always lurked in remote rainforests or deserts and have spread due to immigration and air travel, or is it something more sinister? Our own U.S. and other governments have long experimented with biological warfare, and a Congressional investigation in the early nineteen seventies revealed that the U.S. government, for one, had experimented on our own people by releasing relatively mild and already known diseases around cities, causing some fairly severe illnesses and at least a few deaths. Could some of these seemingly new diseases be the result of DNA technology applied to biological warfare experimentation followed by the accidental…or even deliberate…release of the bacteria and viruses into the environment?

AIDS, or acquired immune deficiency syndrome, is caused by the HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus. It was first noted in 1981, and genetic research supposedly shows that it originated in west central Africa, possibly in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries…but, if so, why was it never described before 1981? It is true that a British subject named David Carr died in 1959 of an undiagnosed illness with symptoms very similar to AIDS, but why, if it was AIDS, were other cases not noted during that period? Keep in mind that at least some AIDS symptoms can be caused by a number of other infectious agents, singly or in combination. Also, one possible explanation for the disease being so widespread in Africa, even among heterosexuals, may be misdiagnosis…many African AIDS cases may actually be simple malnutrition, malaria, and other conditions. There is a theory that the disease somehow jumped from chimpanzees to humans, possibly due to someone being bitten by a chimp. But there are darker theories; researcher and writer Leonard Horowitz has suggested that it came from infected chimpanzees used to make hepatitis B vaccine given to African and American homosexuals in the nineteen seventies. Others have claimed that the disease, whatever its origin, was deliberately introduced into smallpox and polio vaccines given to Africans. There is no proof of this.

Beginning in 1994 the world was introduced to a truly gruesome disease called a flesh eating bacteria. Actually, the organism does not eat flesh, but secretes toxins that kill the flesh, leading to gangrene, and often ending in a slow, agonizing death, or amputations and/or permanent scarring. The condition is actually caused by several antibiotic-resistant bacteria like streptococcus pyrogenes, streptococcus aureus, vibria vulnificus, clostridium perfringens, and bacteroides fragilis. It seems unlikely that researchers would even produce, let alone release several new diseases at once with all designed to produce the same symptoms, and we know that overuse of antibiotics has led to resistant bacteria. But it still seems strange that there is no clear description of these symptoms prior to 1994.

Equally gruesome is the Ebola virus, or Ebola hemorrhagic fever, spread by bodily fluids, which destroys blood vessel walls, leading to internal hemorrhaging as well as external, and the destruction of internal organs. The first recognized outbreak was at a Belgian mission hospital in the Ebola River Valley in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is also found in several animal species, and there was an outbreak among monkeys in the U.S. in 1989. There are five varieties, and, although the disease is not very contagious, one variety, the Zaire Ebola virus, has about an eighty to ninety percent fatality rate. A disease that is slow and unlikely to spread seems an unlikely candidate for bacteriological warfare, but things do not always go as planned, and the designers may have hoped for it to be more contagious. And this is the same part of the world where AIDS is believed to have originated.

Hantavirus, or hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS), was first noted in New Mexico in 1993. It is spread by rodents, mainly in the Americas, and is an often fatal but not very contagious respiratory disease which can also cause HFRS, or hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome, and this variant appears to be more common in eastern Asia. Other forms of the disease appeared in Korea during the Korean War (1950-1953), but not the respiratory variant, although Indian legends may refer to it, and antibody tests supposedly show survivors had been infected with it as far back as 1959. So it may have been a natural illness that existed all along, but bear in mind that bacteriological warfare may have been carried out by either side in Korea, and there is still no clear proof that the respiratory variant existed before 1993.

Giardia lamblia, also known as lamblia intestinalis and giardia duodenalis, is a water borne flagellated protozoan that infects the small intestine, causing diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, and weight loss, and which can be inhibited, but not cured, by a low carbohydrate diet. The disease was not reported prior to the development of recombinant DNA technology, although it may have been observed under a microscope by Leeuwenhoek in 1681 and by other researchers in the nineteenth century. But there is no hard proof of its existence prior to the last few decades.

Lyme fever, or Lyme disease, is caused by a spirochete bacterium, borrelia burgdorferi, and a closely related disease, a relapsing fever, is caused by another spirochete, borrelia hermsii. Both of these are carried and spread by ticks, infect animals and humans, and cause long term and often serious illness including symptoms of arthritis. The disease was never reported until it appeared in 1975 around Old Lyme, Connecticut.

Near Connecticut is Long Island, and the northern part of the island is a somewhat mysterious, even sinister area. American Nazis had a camp there up until WWII, used for large gatherings, and Nazi saboteurs paddled ashore on Long Island during the war. The top secret Brookhaven National Laboratory is located near Montauk Point at the northern end of the island, and the area was once visited by the sinister and mysterious Aleister Crowley, a man heavily involved with the occult. Several mysterious plane crashes have occurred just off Long Island. Near Long Island is the much smaller Plum Island, the location of the PIADC, or Plum Island Animal Disease Center. Anthrax research was carried out here, and biological warfare research, supposedly targeting only livestock. And Plum Island is only a few miles offshore from Old Lyme.

Article Copyright© William B Stoecker - reproduced with permission.

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