Britain and Biological Warfare: Expert Advice and Science by B. Balmer

By B. Balmer

From worry of sabotage within the London Underground to the 1st anthrax bomb and the large outdoors exams, Brian Balmer tells the mostly untold historical past of organic guns learn and coverage in Britain. Drawing on lately declassified files, this booklet charts the key heritage of germ war coverage from the 1930's to the mid-1960's. Britain and organic battle explores the position of self sufficient medical advisors in shaping the most major organic struggle examine courses in heritage.

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Extra resources for Britain and Biological Warfare: Expert Advice and Science Policy, 1930-65

Example text

This role could not be fulfilled by the Subcommittee on Emergency Bacteriological Services because it had been passed to the Ministry of Health on the outbreak of war and was promptly suspended. ’12 These defensive terms of reference were soon challenged. At their first meeting in February 1940, the BW Committee was asked to comment on a lone call to initiate offensive research from the prestigious Canadian scientist, Sir Frederick Banting, co-discoverer of insulin. Banting had prepared this paper for the National Research Council of Canada and passed it on to the British authorities while on a fact-finding mission to the UK.

No further mention was made in the outline scheme of bacteriological warfare in the narrow sense. Instead, a thorough discussion followed about issues such as how the service would deal with wound infections, intestinal infections and respiratory infections; the state of existing bacteriological facilities; the mobilization of the service on the outbreak of war; together with transport, administration and staffing needs. 26 Although Mellanby suggested that the service be made a permanent, peacetime extension of the public health service, this position was not universally supported.

In particular, the authors rejected anthrax, psittacosis and tularemia as viable agents because they fell outside of their own definition of biological warfare. These diseases, while dangerous for those infected, would not readily spread. Without the potential to cause epidemics, their choice by any enemy would, according to the report, entail ‘the sacrifice of the main advantage of the bacteriological weapon’. On a more threatening note, the report warned of two distinct possibilities, foot and mouth disease targeted at livestock and general bacteriological sabotage.

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