Thank you for Seth Shulman's useful article on military funding for research on biological warfare (BW) (The Scientist, December 15, pp. 1, 8). It is highly significant that between 1981 and 1987—the Reagan years—Department of Defense funding for BW has gone up by a factor of five. Let us recall also that in his status as President of the Senate, Vice President George Bush twice broke a tie vote on the production of binary nerve gases, both times in favor of producing them.
One of the most frequent ploys in encouraging public acceptance of weapons programs is to present them as defensive. Shulman's article states that "most of this research focuses on the development of vaccines against some of the most deadly and exotic diseases known—diseases that could be unleashed as part of a biological warfare (BW) campaign."
In this field, defense and offense go hand in hand....
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