WHO Plays in the Big
JACKIE, my wife and co-investigator had been instrumental in helping
me research the Florida dental AIDS tragedy for 'Deadly Innocence.'
 The loving mother of our now two children, Jackie began her
working career as a dental assistant for the Saskatchewan Dental
Plan in Canada. We met in Cancun, Mexico, waiting in line at Carlos
and Charlie's Bar and Grill. At the time, she was looking for a job
and I needed an assistant. The rest is history.
Besides her big blue eyes, long silky
auburn hair, slight build, and innocent appearance, what attracted
me most about my future wife was her survival instinct. She had
spent almost two months touring the back roads of Mexico virtually
unchaperoned. This girl's a survivor, I respectfully considered.
Over the years, I found this trait increasingly comforting,
particularly while confronting the many frightening realities we
encountered during our research.
The WHO Does What?
"The only thing I know about the World Health Organization," I said
to Jackie after learning of Strecker's theory, "is that it's a
prestigious internationally supported organization that develops
health and vaccination programs for developing countries."
suddenly seemed odd to me that over the course of my training
- more than four years of college, three years of dental school, ten
years of postdoctoral research and teaching, and sixteen years of
clinical dental practice - I had learned very little about the WHO.
"I don't even know what's involved in becoming a WHO member," I
admitted. "The name sure imparts an air of scientific aristocracy."
Eventually, as the novelty of Strecker's theory wore off, and
further attempts at contacting Strecker by phone failed, I decided
to venture into the dungeons of Harvard's Countway Medical Library
to prove "the null hypothesis" - that nothing was true about
Strecker's memorandum.  What I unearthed, however, in back issues
of the 'WHO Chronicle' was engaging.
Dozens of 'WHO Chronicle' articles that I photocopied and brought
home revealed that by 1968 the WHO (World Health Organization) had been solely in control of the
world's experimental "biologicals" for almost two decades. 
"WHO has exerted a powerful influence on the quality control of
biological substances since its very inception in 1948... Since
1952, when WHO interest in the establishment of international
requirements for such biological products began, various possible
measures have been examined for attempting to achieve a greater
degree of uniformity in the quality, safety, and potency of
vaccines, antisera, etc... for the control of substances of
particular interest to WHO in relation to its mass immunization
and mass prophylaxis schemes in developing countries...
purpose served by these international standards, reference
preparations, and reference reagents is to provide a means of
ensuring worldwide uniformity in expressing the potency of
preparations used in the prophylaxis, therapy, or diagnosis of human
and animal disease." 
The coordinating body for all this work I learned was "the WHO
secretariat." The Geneva-based organization maintained several
full-time officers and part-time consultants who worked in
collaboration with several other laboratories in other countries:
"The laboratories most deeply involved are the WHO
Laboratories for Biological Standards within the departments of
biological standards of the Statens Seruminstitut, Copenhagen, the
National Institute for Medical Research, London, and the
Veterinary Laboratory, Weybridge, England. Between them, these
laboratories undertake the detailed work of organizing international
collaborative assays and of holding and distributing the
international biological standards and many of the international
biological reference preparations and international biological
The initiative for setting up standards and
reference preparations usually comes from a WHO Expert Committee on
Biological Standardization, which is convened annually in Geneva. It
comprises recognized experts in the field, who serve without
remuneration in their personal capacity and not as representatives
of governments or other bodies, together with members of the WHO
secretariat. This Expert Committee also establishes the
international standards and reference preparations on the basis of
the results of the international collaborative assays."
"For pharmaceuticals generally, still including some biologicals,
the drawing up of standards is in the hands of the Expert Committee
on Specifications for Pharmaceutical Preparations, in collaboration
with the WHO secretariat and with the help of the Expert Advisory
Panel on the International Pharmacopoeia and Pharmaceutical
Needless to say, close liaison is needed between the
secretariat, the Expert Committee on Biological Standardization, the
Expert Committee on Specifications for Pharmaceutical Preparations,
and various other expert committees on, for example, antibiotics,
tuberculosis, yellow fever, and cholera." 
Another article  discussed the WHO's "National control
activities" which provided advice and encouragement when countries
became "conscious of the need for controlling biologicals." WHO
helped them establish and develop their "national
control laboratories."  It was quickly apparent that the WHO set
the standards for the development, manufacture, distribution, and
administration of essentially all pharmaceuticals used throughout
the world (see fig. 2.1). [3,4] As seen in figure 2.2, they were
also intimately involved in determining which drugs should be made
or remain illegal. 
Besides assembling teams of scientists to
develop, test, and standardize new (and ancient) drugs, the WHO
applied similar administrative leadership to develop plans for
attacking all the woes of humanity. Polio, yellow fever, cholera,
smallpox, whooping cough, diphtheria, tetanus, measles, anthrax,
typhoid, tuberculosis, influenza, and even the common cold were all
The WHO's approach to controlling communicable diseases
was spelled out by their Assistant Director-General, Dr.
"Mass campaigns against certain communicable diseases require an
initial attack sustained uninterruptedly over a relatively large
area within a short period of time... In smallpox, for instance,
the buildup of new susceptibles in the absence of routine
vaccination creates an explosive situation resulting in the familiar
pattern of epidemics of smallpox followed by epidemics of
vaccination... " 
WHO's Developing Viral Network
Applauding WHO's support for pioneering work in viral research, Dr.
D.A. Tyrrell reported the common cold (rhino) virus provided
valuable insights into the burgeoning field of virology. In the
early 1960s, WHO designated Tyrrell's research unit in the United
Kingdom and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda,
Maryland, as "two International Reference Centers... in order to
promote their [respiratory virus] study."
From here, newly developed
techniques for virus cultivation, Tyrrell wrote, were widely
"Hundreds of strains of rhinoviruses have been isolated and shown to
be antigenically distinct from at least some other strains. They
have been reported in the scientific literature under a confusing
variety of designations, and it was accordingly decided at a meeting
of the Directors of the WHO Virus Reference Centers to undertake
collaborative study in which sera and strains were distributed to a
number of laboratories so that cross neutralization tests could be
performed of all well-characterized and apparently new strains. This
work was supported by the US Vaccine Development Board [emphasis
added] and coordinated by the two WHO International Reference
"Work on these viruses," Tyrrell continued, demanded "a supply of
cells" that were "sensitive to such organisms."
considerable work to find such cells. Often cell lines would "change
their sensitivity after prolonged cultivation." The Reference
Centers, thus, maintained stocks of cells, "stored in liquid
nitrogen," which they distributed to labs conducting viral research
throughout the world.
Some viruses that failed to grow in the usual tissue cultures,
"were propagated in cultures of the human trachea
and nose," that is, "in the organs and tissues in which they
multiply in nature."
These viruses, some "new rhinoviruses," and
other new types "never before detected in man were "disseminated
through the WHO network of Virus Reference Centers." 
"So, let me
get this straight," Jackie said.
"World renowned scientists
developed WHO policies and practices, studied and distributed
viruses, with financial support from groups like the 'U.S. Vaccine
Development Board.' Was the board, like the WHO connected to any
"I'm not sure," I replied, "but most likely. There was obviously
lots of money to be made with vaccines, and only a few companies
"Well Merck, Sharp and Dohme (MSD) is one
of the largest, and they did fund the hepatitis B vaccine research
Strecker alleged spread HIV to homosexuals in America."
report four months later showed Israeli scientists were supported by
the WHO to study the genetic determinants of the human immune
A few others stated that the WHO was funding several
programs designed to evaluate the specific disease vulnerabilities
of minority groups - from American Indians  to African natives
 - through the collection and analysis of "gene pools" and "blood
"That's just what the Nazis did," Jackie recalled.
"Here are a couple more articles noting the WHO and the U.S. Vaccine
Development Board also funded 'large-scale human trials' of newly
developed vaccines made from both bacterial and viruses."
"Let me see." I passed the reports over to my
"Just as Strecker reported," Jackie said after
reading the articles carefully.
"Yeah. I hate to say it, but maybe
there's something to his theory. Their 'smallpox eradication
program' used vaccines made from antisera made largely in the United
States and given for free to African countries, including Kenya,
Ethiopia, Guinea, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Rwanda.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo, which eventually became
Zaire, they said would 'have a sufficient production capacity to
supply the needs of all the African countries south of the Sahara."'
"That's interesting, and very noble," Jackie retorted
somewhat cynically. "Zaire-the center of the African AIDS
belt-supplying neighboring countries with the technology and
expertise they needed to become healthier and more self-sufficient
is great. I only wonder who paid for it and why?"
"I just read that
their vaccine development committee endorsed a 1970 African campaign
budget of $14 million," I answered. 
"That was a lot of money
for those days."
"About how much in present dollars?"
I asked my
more mathematically gifted partner. "Say about five times that,
around $70 million."
"Much of it apparently came from the United
States and other world governments interested in Africa. And
periodic infusions of more cash for revaccination campaigns were
needed and supplied."
The Lausanne Laboratories
In 1964, shortly after President Kennedy's assassination, the WHO
created the International Reference Centre for Immunoglobulins at
the University of Lausanne, Switzerland. Three years later, the WHO
Regional Reference Centre for Immunology (Research and Training) was
designated at the same site. Its director, Dr. Rowe, reported that
the center was established to broaden the WHO's "range of
activities" in-so-far as the "study of antibodies and immunoglobulins,"
the naturally produced proteins that defend the body against attack
by toxins and germs.
Rowe noted the WHO's special interest in
cell-mediated immunity, that is, the cells that recognize antigen
(foreign proteins associated with germs and toxic substances),
secrete antibody, and are themselves able to attack foreign cells.
Primary defense cells, called lymphoid cells, Rowe noted, were under
intensive investigation to determine how they initiated and
maintained the immune system,
"paramount... in determining the
pathogenic effects of infectious agents ranging from viruses to
"Apparently their experiments went well," I
"In December 1969, the WHO issued its second five-year
research report on viral experiments it had funded or conducted
The report stated,
"In the years 1964-68 the principal advances in virology were in
knowledge of the fundamental structure of viruses and cells and of
their interrelationships and interactions. A much greater
understanding was gained of the natural behavior of viruses as
infectious agents, of the pathogenesis of virus diseases, and of the
means of controlling many of the common virus diseases - generally
by improving existing vaccines or by developing new ones."
"Though direct proof of a causal relationship between viruses and
human cancer still escapes the numerous investigators working on
this subject, the quest continues to be energetically pursued. The
hypothesis that at least some malignant neoplastic diseases such as
leukemia are associated with virus infection is perhaps even more
strongly expressed now than in the past." 
The article went on to state that Russian and American researchers
were privy to the same vaccines, viral samples, and information
about how the human immune system could be bolstered or destroyed by
old and newly developed germs, including those produced from monkey
"All this during the cold war," Jackie noted.
Green Monkeys, Slow Viruses, and $10 Million
"Strecker's material said that the DOD provided one contract in 1970
for $10 million for the development of a synthetic biological agent
with no natural immunity. Which WHO reference center got that?"
"It had to have been one in the U.S."
"For sure, but
"There were only two possibilities," I said, "Atlanta,
Georgia, and Bethesda, Maryland." [17-19]
The Atlanta lab, was run
by the CDC's predecessor - the National Communicable Disease Center
(NCDC). The Bethesda lab was run by the NIH. The later was cited in
the WHO Chronicle as one of the initial two International [virus]
Reference Centers. Yet, it was reported to be inadequately equipped
to handle dangerous smallpox viruses.
These were allegedly handled
"If that's the case, it's not likely they would have
handled deadly viruses like HIV either," Jackie reasoned.
necessarily," I responded. "The smallpox virus and the DOD
requisition may have posed different risks."
Shortly after our
conversation, an article by Charles Siebert in 'The New York Times
Magazine' clarified the biological safety level (BSL) risk rating
system used by the CDC and the NIH:
"In the hierarchy of precaution taken against biological threats at
the CDC, BSL 1 and 2 are the lowest level of safety. Work is done
there only with non - or moderate-risk organisms - viruses that
cause colds, for example, or bacteria that cause diarrhea. At BSL 3,
known as "the hot zone" or the "blue suit lab," workers visit with
highly transmissible viruses or with those viruses or bacteria for
which there is no known cure. There are only two BSL 4 labs in the
country, one at the United States Army Medical Research Institute
for Infectious Diseases [USAMRIID] at Fort Detrick in Frederick,
Md., and the one in Atlanta." 
Our road atlas showed us Frederick was very close to Bethesda. I
picked up the telephone to learn more. An administrator at the NCI's
Tumor Cell Biology Lab in Bethesda confirmed Siebert's report.
Additionally, the woman told me,
"The AIDS virus is considered a BSL
3 hazard. It's being studied in Bethesda as well as numerous labs
across the nation."
We also learned that, once developed, the most
dangerous viruses planned for use as biological weapons were shipped
to the Pine Bluff Arsenal for storage.  Among the tens of
thousands of viral strains cultured, developed, and transported for
study by WHO reference centers, we learned that two received special
attention and an inordinate share of research dollars: monkey
viruses, including the simian pox virus, and the "slow" viruses,
particularly visna and scrapie. [17-19, 22]
We read these reports
carefully since Strecker noted the AIDS virus bears the greatest
likeness to the human-bovine (cow) lymphotrophic
(lymph-cell-targeting and cancer-causing) virus combined with sheep
visna virus.  Monkeypox was of great interest to researchers, the
'WHO Chronicle' said, for two reasons.
First, the monkeypox virus
was found closely related to the variola-vaccinia virus group, which
causes and immunizes against human smallpox.
Second, the monkey is
man's closest relative in the animal kingdom, and experimental
results using monkeys were expected to provide the best indication
of what might occur in humans exposed to the same elements. [17-22]
Alternatively, "slow" viruses were of the greatest interest to WHO,
CDC, NIB, and NCI scientists between 1968 and 1974. The reasons for
this were not as obvious.
The 'WHO Chronicle' reported:
"Recent interest in the "slow" viruses, in particular those causing
chronic degenerative disease of the nervous system-the CHINA
(chronic infectious neuropathic agents) viruses-has come from
painstaking work with visna and scrapie, degenerative diseases of
the central nervous system of sheep, and kuru, a degenerative
disease of the central nervous system of man restricted to the Fore
people of New Guinea and their immediate neighbors."
"Why so much interest in two sheep viruses that cause nerve
disorders and don't infect humans?" Jackie asked.
"I'm not sure."
"And what about kuru? Who are the 'Fore people of New Guinea'? What
makes them so important that viral centers around the world took up
"Well, let's look it up." I walked over to our library
and pulled out a copy of Steadman's Medical Dictionary.
"A highly localized, fatal disease found in New Guinea, resembling
paralysis agitans [a nervous disorder with frequent bouts of
shaking]; found among certain cannibalistic people who ingest raw
brain of recently deceased victims of the disease. Also called a
laughing sickness." 
"When in history has helping cannibals been a world priority?" I
"Never," Jackie responded. "The notion seems utterly
"Oh. That was awful."
"Sorry, I couldn't help myself."
We read on:
"CHINA viruses are distinguished by the languishing character of the
infection process they initiate. The incubation period in the
host may be months or years, and the disease itself may progress
laggardly towards an irreversible deterioration of the victim. Cells
infected with "slow" viruses are in general neither impaired nor
stimulated to proliferate. Their functions are impaired but the
nature of the dysfunction has not as yet been clarified." 
"It's remarkable how closely this matches several of the most
prominent features of AIDS," I said. "And there's more":
"The resistance of the scrapie agent to heat, ether, formalin, and
other enzymatic and chemical agents, as well as its very small
particle size, poses the question whether it is a conventional
virus, an incomplete virus, or some other agent... The findings
of different [research] groups are at variance and in several
instances are totally inexplicable within our present concept of
infectious agents..." 
"That reads just like the DOD order for a 'new infective
microorganism' that couldn't be defended against," I remarked.
article went on to state that additional experiments had been
conducted in order to prompt the human immune response "by the
injection of double-stranded RNA." 
"HIV is a single-stranded
RNA 'slow' virus," I explained. "And gene cutting and splicing
techniques were well developed at that time." 
"Could they have
cut double-stranded RNA to make single stranded RNA?"
"I'm not sure,
but what I don't understand is, here, the 'WHO Chronicle' stated the
primary objective of their viral research program was "to acquire a
thorough knowledge of the virus diseases so that prophylactic and
other public health measures can be introduced as soon as possible."
"What's the matter with that?"
"Look at what they were studying
to accomplish it. Two rare diseases that only affect sheep and one
totally remote virus that makes brain eaters laugh themselves to
"Do you think they might've been looking at these things for
use as biological weapons?" Jackie asked and then added, "Think
about it - scrapie - a totally unconventional germ that they're not
even sure what it is. You can't kill it with heat or chemicals, and
there are 'still no tissue culture systems or antibody systems' by
which enemy defenses could be prepared."
"And 'at variance' and
'totally inexplicable' with the current knowledge at that time," I
added, "the enemy would not only be surprised, but baffled and
We reflected again on the DOD document that detailed
their desire to acquire:
"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."
"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..." 
The following week we learned that despite heavy opposition by the
public and House of Representatives, the United States Congress gave
the Army $23.2 million for biological warfare research. About half
of that, at least $10 million of taxpayer money, went directly
toward funding the manufacture of immunosuppressive agents allegedly
for defense. 
"In essence, this one 1970 DOD biological weapons
appropriation cost more than half of all the money the WHO spent in
Africa that year for all of their health care and vaccination
Fig 2.1 - WHO Requirements for Biological Substances:
1958 General Requirements for Manufacturing Establishing and Control
Laboratories (revised in 1965)
1958 Poliomyelitis Vaccine
(Inactivated) (revised in 1965)
1958 Yellow Fever Vaccine
Cholera Vaccine (revised in 1968)
1958 Smallox Vaccine (revised in
1959 General Requirements for Sterility of Biological
1961 Poliomyelitis Vaccine (Oral) (revised in 1965)
1963 Pertussis Vaccine
1963 Procaine Benzylpenicillin in Oil with
Aiuminium Monostearate (revised in 1965)
1963 Diphtheria Toxoid and
1965 Dried BGG Vaccine
1965 Measles Vaccine (Live)
and Measles Vaccine (Inactivated)
1966 Anthrax Spore Vaccine
(Live-for Veterinary Use)
1966 Human Immunoglobulin
1967 Inactivated Influenza Vaccine
Immune Sera of Animal Origin (to be published)
Source: Mathews AG. WHO's influence on the control of biologicals.
'WHO Chronicle' 1969;23;1:3-15.
Fig 2.2 - WHO's influence on the control of Biologicals Involving
the development of International Standards Regulating
WHO'S INFLUENCE ON THE CONTROL OF BIOLOGICALS
by A. G. Matthews*
(*Chief of Quality Control, Commonwealth Serum
Melbourne, Australia. The article is based on a paper presented to
the Australian Pharmaceutical Science Association at a seminar on
drug control, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zeland, February
This seems to be a most appropriate time to review the work of WHO
in relation to the quality of biological products, for in 1968 the
Organization completed its twentieth year of existence. It is during
its second decade that WHO has exerted a particularly direct
influence in this field, by virtue of the establishment of a series
of Requirements for Biological Substances (see Table 1).
International biological standards
However, in a somewhat less direct fashion, WHO has exerted a
powerful influence on the quality control of biological substances
since its very inception in 1948. The work of setting up and
distributing international biological standards was not started by
WHO but was taken over, already in an advanced stage of development,
from the Health Committee of the League of Nations. Indeed the first
few international standards for biological substances were
established by a national body, the Statens Seruminstitut,
Copenhagen, a few years before the creation of the Health Committee.
The very first such standard - the International Standard for
Diphtheria Antitoxin, which consists of a dried hyper immune horse
serum - was established in 1922 and it is still in use today. It
says much for the forethought and wise choice of the early
authorities, as well as for the stability of at least some
biological products, that a single preparation has served world
requirements for a period of 46 years.
The supply of this particular
standard is expected to last for at least another 46 years. From
this small start in 1922, and up until 1948, when WHO was
established, the number of international standards distributed by
the League of Nations grew to 32, in the categories enumerated in
Table 2. The total number of international biological standards
issued by WHO is now 79, and in addition there are 56 international
biological reference preparations.
Also, in recent years, 96 international biological reference reagents have been established by WHO.
Generally, these are intended as reference materials for substances
used in the diagnosis of disease and in the identification of
micro-organisms. Many leptospiral typing antisera are included among
these reagents, and a recently established set of viral typing
antisera is being rapidly expanded.
Table 2 gives a classification
of the current international preparations, with comparative figures
for 1948. In general, the main purpose served by these international
standards, reference preparations, and reference reagents is to
provide a means of ensuring world-wide uniformity in expressing the
potency of preparations used in the prophylaxis, therapy, or
diagnosis of human and animal disease.
Most of the substances for
which these international standards, etc. have been established
could not, at least at the time of their establishment, be
characterized fully by chemical and physical means. The activity of
an ill-characterized substance may be measured by biological assay,
and the results may be best expressed as a ratio of its activity to
the activity of a closely similar physical specimen, designated the
international standard. In many eases, the defining of an
[One of numerous 'WHO Chronicle' reports obtained from Harvard's
Francis Countway Medical Library during an initial investigation
into the origin of AIDS. Source: Mathews AG. WHO's influence on the
control of biologicals. 'WHO Chronicle' 1969;23;1:3-15]
 Horowitz LG.
Deadly Innocence: Solving the greatest murder
mystery in the history of American medicine. Rockport, MA:
Tetrahedron, Inc., 1994. Includes a chapter titled "The Clinton-CIA
Connection" which relays the story told by ex-intelligence asset
Terry Reed. According to Reed's Compromised (S.P.I.Books, 1993),
much of the Iran-Contra affair-the drugs for arms and hundreds of
millions of dollars of laundered cash-was apparently handled by
Clinton administration officials under a Banana Republic set up by
the CIA and agents William Barr and Oliver North during the Reagan
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the possible cure for the pandemic AIDS. Eagle Rock, CA: The
Strecker Group, 1988.
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Chronicle 1968;23; 1 :3-15.
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Specialized and integrated services. WHO Chronicle 1968;22;1:3-7.
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 Unfortunately, with the smallpox vaccination as with hepatitis
B vaccination, the WHO reported that,
"in persons vaccinated only in
infancy, the incidence of smallpox increases with age as immunity
diminishes; the data indicate a high degree of protection for 4-5
years, followed by a slow decline, but even after a longer period,
smallpox in vaccinated persons is usually milder than in
unvaccinated persons and this appears to indicate some residual
immunity. Similarly, the difficulty in producing a major reaction to
revaccination lessens with time, but even after 10 or 20 years the
vaccine required to produce a high percentage of takes must be at
least 5-10 times more potent than vaccines that will produce the
same percentage of takes in primary vaccinations. The duration of
immunity after revaccination cannot be assessed accurately because
not enough is known about the occurrence of smallpox in successfully
Quotation from: World Health
Organization Report. Communicable diseases in 1970: Some aspects of
the WHO programme. WHO Chronicle 1971 ;25;6:249-255.
 Rowe OS. The WHO immunology laboratories at Lausanne. WHO
 WHO Report (Based on the 1969 report The medical research
programme of the World health Organization, 19641968, Geneva.) Five
years of research of virus diseases. WHO Chronicle
 Kalter SS and Heberling. The study of simian viruses. WHO
 Siebert C. Smallpox is dead: Long live smallpox. The New York
Times Magazine, Sunday, August 21, 1994, Section 6, pp. 31-55.
 Walsh J. Civilian use for biological warfare facility under
study. Science 1970;167;923: 1359.
 Henderson OA and Arita I. Monkeypox and its relevance to
smallpox eradication WHO Chronicle 1973;27;4:145-148.
 As defined in Stedman's Medical Dictionary, Kuru is a "highly
localized, fatal disease found in New Guinea, resembling paralysis
agitans; found among certain cannibalistic people who ingest raw
brain of recently deceased victims of the disease. Also call
 Lederberg J. Biological warfare: a global threat. American
 Department of Defense Appropriations For 1970: Hearings Before
A Subcommittee of the Committee on Appropriations House of
Representatives, Ninety-first Contress, First Session, H.B. 15090, Part 5, Research, Development, Test and Evaluation,
Dept. of the Army. U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington,
 Washington Correspondent. Gas and germ warfare renounced but
lingers on. Nature 1970 228;273:707-8.