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How the British Government authorized the biological weapon testing on people during the Cold War

Ian Harvey

This may not come as a surprise to some, however for those who opposed the famous ‘chemtrail’ conspiracy theory as a farfetched idea and preposterous claim must take a dive into a recently released government report. The gist of the long report is that Ministry of Defence in Britain carried out an elaborated germ test using British population as a laboratory.

The report shocked the world by showing the details of Britain’s biological weapon warfare testing that its Ministry of Defence (MOD) supervised from 1940 up until 1979. Well, the idea was very simple; deadly chemicals were sprayed over large swaths of the population in order to assess their effect on the population and to gauge the public’s resilience to biological warfare; and of course the ‘guinea pigs’ namely the British people did not know anything about the experiments.

The cold war gave us all kinds of propaganda targeted on the Soviets regarding their nuclear and biological capabilities. One can go through some of the literature produced during the era to get a better understanding of paranoia among the decision makers of the west. Britain, though conceived as the cleverest of the western allies, could not help but sucked into the paranoid measures first initiated by none other than the United States of America. On the advice of American intelligence, MOD decided to carry out biological weapon testing on Public, anticipating Soviet’s silent biological attack on Britain.

All photos by Imperial War Museum

A lady’s powder box used to hold some of the Bacillus globigii bacteria dispersed by government scientists in the London Underground in 1964

A lady’s powder box used to hold some of the Bacillus globigii bacteria dispersed by government scientists in the London Underground in 1964

Although the speculations and some aspects of the tests have previously been discussed, the 60 pages long report sheds more light on the detailed nature of the experiments; providing information about no less than 100 such biological tests on British people.

The details of the operation were to be a classified matter, however, the officials were briefed to tell any clever ‘inquisitive inquirer’ that the experiments are merely of environmental nature and that these trials are tests to control pollution and ensure public health, in reality, the tests were anything but safe.

Ministry of Defence maintains that the chemicals used in the trials were harmless and were mere mimics of the real dangerously harmful biological agents. However, people living in the areas used as a chemical laboratory, and a number of public health experts disagree with MOD’s narrative citing a large proportion of birth defects in the children born in the regions.

Field trial personnel in 1956. The masks had to be worn to allow the collection of proxy warfare substances that had been sprayed from aircraft Imperial War Museums

Field trial personnel in 1956. The masks had to be worn to allow the collection of proxy warfare substances that had been sprayed from aircraft Imperial War Museums

 

One of the chapters in the reports titled ‘The Fluorescent Particle Trials’, it has been revealed how planes sprayed the population living along the coast from north-east England to the edge of Cornwall with zinc cadmium sulphide. The fluorescent nature of the material allowed the experts to follow the spread of the chemical over the coastal region. In another such experiment, a generator spewed the same chemical in the air while driving on a road in Somerset, for a complete hour. The experts at MOD and the government wants public to believe that cadmium is not a harmful agent. However, historians disagree because the same agent was perceived and used as the biological weapon during the Second World War.

This is just the tip of the iceberg; since hundreds of such biological tests were carried out up and down the country, some even involved a variation of anthrax. The coastal areas saw the brunt of the biological warfare testing; however urban cities could not escape the flurry. London underground was also used as a laboratory for a number of tests; the most famously Northern line was sprayed with a mimic form of anthrax to assess the rate of spread under-ground. Some of the tests included the helping hands of US experts who assisted the engineers and scientists working for MOD to devise a variety of such tests.

Results of a chemical warfare experiment at Porton Down, 1953

Results of a chemical warfare experiment at Porton Down, 1953

 

Some MOD sponsored reports claim that the testing did not pose any ‘significant’ threats to the wider public. However, the reports do mention a chance of adversity on elderly and those suffering from breathing problems. The report about the biological tests has opened many areas of debates about the government’s ignorance about public health when it comes to dealing with their paranoia and twisted foreign policies. On the other hand, this also gives validity to the claims of American government carrying out a variety of biological testing using high flying planes spraying all sorts of chemicals on population; testing from biological warfare to environmental and weather manipulation.