||TUESDAY, JULY 1, 1969
agents that we have ever considered. So, we have to believe they are
probably working in the same areas.
SYNTHETIC BIOLOGICAL AGENTS
There are two things about the biological agent field I would like
to mention. One is the possibility of technological surprise. Molecular
biology is a field that is advancing very rapidly and eminent biologists
believe that within a period of 5 to 10 years it would be possible to
produce a synthetic biological agent, an agent that does not naturally
exist and for which no natural immunity could have been acquired.
MR. SIKES. Are we doing any work in that field?
DR. MACARTHUR. We are not.
MR. SIKES. Why not? Lack of money or lack of interest?
DR. MACARTHUR. Certainly not lack of interest.
MR. SIKES. Would you provide for our records information on what
would be required, what the advantages of such a program would be,
the time and the cost involved?
DR. MACARTHUR. We will be very happy to.
(The information follows:)
The dramatic progress being made in the field of molecular biology led us to
investigate the relevance of this field of science to biological warfare. A small group of experts considered this matter and provided the following observa- tions:
1. All biological agents up the the present time are representatives of naturally
occurring disease, and are thus known by scientists throughout the world. They
are easily available to qualified scientists for research, either for offensive or
2. Within the next 5 to 10 years, it would probably be possible to make a new
infective microorganism which could differ in certain important aspects from
any known disease-causing organisms. Most important of these is that it might
be refractory to the immunological and therapeutic processes upon which we
depend to maintain our relative freedom from infectious disease.
3. A research program to explore the feasibility of this could be completed
in approximately 5 years at a total cost of $10 million.
4. It would be very difficult to establish such a program. Molecular biology
is a relatively new science. There are not many highly competent scientists in the
field. Almost all are in university laboratories, and they are generally adequately
supported from sources other than DOD. However, it was considered possible
to initiate an adequate program through the National Academy of Sciences –
National Research Council (NAS-NRC).
The matter was discussed with the NAS-NRC, and tentative plans were plans were made
to initiate the program. However decreasing funds in CB, growing criticism
of the CB program, and our reluctance to involve the NAS-NRC in such a con-
troversial endeavor have led us to postpone it for the past 2 years.
It is a highly controversial issue and there are many who believe such
research should not be undertaken lest it lead to yet another method of massive
killing of large populations. On the other hand, without the sure scientific
knowledge that such a weapon is possible, and an understanding of the ways it
could be done, there is little that can be done to devise defensive measures.
Should an enemy develop it, there is little doubt that this is an important area
of potential military technological inferiority in which there is no adequate
CROSS-COUNTRY SHIPMENT OF LETHAL AGENTS
MR. SIKES. Now, let’s talk about shipments. There has been a great
deal of discussion–most of it hostile–about the proposal to ship cer-
tain stocks of nerve gas across coutry for transporting to a deep