DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
APPROPRIATIONS FOR 1970
United States Senate Library
SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE
COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Subcommittee on Department of Defense
George H. Mahon, Texas, Chairman
Robert L.F. Sikes, Florida Glenard P. Lipscomb, California
Jamie D. Whitten, Mississippi William E. Minshall, Ohio
George W. Andrews, Alabama John J. Rhodes, Arizona
Daniel J. Flood, Pennsylvania Glenn R. Davis, Wisconsin
John M. Slack, West Virginia Joseph P. Addabbo, New York
Frank E. Evans, Colorado
Temporarily assigned H.B. 15090
RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT, TEST, AND EVALUATION
Department of the Army
Statement of Director, Advanced Research Project Agency
Statement of Director, Defense Research and Engineering
Printed for the use of the Committee on Appropriations
U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
WASHINGTON : 1969
UNITED STATES SENATE LIBRARY
TUESDAY, JULY 1, 1969
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 poddible to produce a
synthetic biological agent, an agent that does not naturally
exist and for which no natural immunity could have been
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
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
1. All biological agents up the the present time are
representitives 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 defensive purposes.
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 when we depend to maintain our relative freedom from
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 scientisis 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, and tentative 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 controversial 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 undertaked 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 research program.