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November 21, 1989 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1989-11-21

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Page 4

Tuesday, November 21, 1989

The Michigan Daily


The top ten justifications for doing weapons research (refuted):

By Matt Green
This is the first in a two-part series.
I would like to state openly that my ac-
tions are not completely consistent with
the arguments presented here. For exam-
ple, I still teach introductory physics.
However, I do think a lot about the conse-
quences of my actions and decisions. I
hope that others are as disturbed as I am
about the increasing militarization of.
science and are moved to consider seri-
ously the consequences of their own career
choices -and to take action accordingly.
Most of the information for this article
is compiled from Career Information for
the Socially Responsibility Physicist, by
Charles Schwarz; Publish and Perish, by
Paul Selvin and Schwarz, Science for the
People, Vol 20 #1, Jan/Feb 1988; and an
article by Stanton Glanz and Norm Albers,
Science, vol. 186, 1974, page 706.
The top ten justifications for doing
weapons research:
I am just a scientist doing my
job; I stay out of politics.
"" V Doing weapons research is in it-
self a political statement because weapons
research has a significant effect on our so-
ciety. The end product of weapons research
is not useful to anyone in their daily life.
Instead, weapons are produced which, at
best, are never used, and at worst cause

human suffering and death. In addition,
there is a mounting body of evidence that
weapons research, development and pro-
duction pollutes the earth and poisons our
own citizens. The radioactive emissions
from plutonium processing plants are just
one example of this.
By doing weapons research, you place
yourself in a position in which your job
security, financial well-being, and career
advancement depend on continued and in-
creasing funding of military projects. If
you don't directly lobby for such in-
creases, others will do it for you. For ex-
ample, in 1978 after Lawrence Livermore
National Lab Director Roger Batzel and
Los Alamos National Lab Director Harold
Agnew persuaded President Carter not to
sign a comprehensive test ban treaty, Ag-
new claimed, "There is no question in my
mind we turned Carter around... It was ob-
vious we had an impact."
If you are involved in weapons research,
you are acutely aware that your job and
your salary are threatened if you speak out
against building, designing and testing
new weapons. In a democratic society, si-
lence on these issues makes you an ac-
complice to whatever decisions are made.
Between 1980 and 1989, the federal
government has increased military spend-
ing by 44 percent and cut domestic spend-
ing by 22 percent. During this time, the




Housing and Urban Development Budget
was cut by almost 80 percent. A shift in
priorities during this time would have
severely curtailed the present homeless
problem. What were all of the "a-political"
weapons researchers doing then?
I take Department of Defense
(DOD) money, but I am just
doing basic research, not work on
weapons. The end use of my research is
out of my control.
I am fooling the DOD by taking
this money for my research,
which they would otherwise
spend on weapons. I am doing the work I
want to do, not what the DOD tells me to
According to Selvin and Schwarz, "The
Pentagon has an extensive and sophisti-
cated organizational structure to determine
what areas of science are of most benefit
to the military and which particular re-
search projects will further specific mili-
tary goals." Further, Glanz and Alber's
write, "Both the National Research Coun-
cil's (a civilian advisory board) determina-
tion of scientific merit and the military lab
expert's judgement of relevance must be
affirmative or the DOD will not fund the
proposal." If you take DOD money, you
can be quite sure your research is of direct
relevance to some specific weapons sys-

tem. Whether or not your interests lie in
weapons development, you are supporting
weapons research by working on DOD
I don't use DOD money, the De
partment of Energy (DOE) and
the National Science Foundation
(NSF) fund my research.
According to a NSF report, in 1985 the
DOE spent 43 percent of its research and
development budget on weapons research
while only 46 percent of its budget was
spent on energy. This figure for weapons
research was up from 36 percent just two
years before and has probably been increas-
ing ever since. This trend is also noted by
Glanz and Albers, who also remark that
the NSF, DOE, NASA, and DOD regu-
larly consult, coordinate, and even trade
and share project funding. As well, a
1982 report by the Defense Science Board
says, "Research and Development in Uni-
versities is supported by many sponsors,
each relying on complementary funding
from the other sponsors to leverage its
own expenditures."
While the DOE and NSF do fund civil-
ian research, their names do not guarantee
that their projects are not part of an effort
to develop weapons. It pays to research in
detail the possible applications of your
work if you are concerned about avoiding
weapons research.

I don't have any government
research funds. I'm just a physics
You may not be doing military research,
but you may be helping to train students
who are likely to end up doing weapons
research. A 1986 NSF survey reveals that
48 percent of physicists who received their
bachelor's degrees from 1983 to 1985 are
involved in "defense" research. Since 1986
this figure has probably increased. In addi-
tion, it is likely that a comparable or even
greater percentage of engineering students
will become involved in weapon's re-
Dr. Robert Rosenzweig, former vice
president of Stanford University and cur-
rent president of the Association of Amer-
ican Universities, was called to testify be-
fore congress concerning appropriations
for the Department of Defense in 1986.
When asked how a young Ph.D. engineer
could best contribute to the Department of
Defense, Dr. Rosenzweig responded: "If he.
is ... good enough, we would like him to
go back on university faculty." Rosen-
zweig's implication is clear. Because of a
national shortage of engineering profes-
sors, an engineer contributes more to
weapons research by training new engi-
neers that by working directly on DOD
weapons research.
Matt Green is a graduate student in the
physics department.

'it d

£e idigja tilg
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Frightening conclusions

Vol. C, No. 55

420 Maynard St-
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Unsigned editorials represent a majority of the Daily's Editorial Board. All other
cartoons, signed articles, and letters do not necessarily represent the opinion
of the Daily.


CD- *-

What are you;

afraid of. Duderstadt?


Meet student demands

LAST THURSDAY, according to
Reuters, CBS, CNN and numerous
eyewitnesses, the government of El
Salvador murdered six Jesuit priests,
one of their servants, and that servant's
daughter. This is the same government
that the United States supports with
over $1.5 million dollars a day - 74
:--percent of which is either officially or
tmnofficially used for military aid.
On Friday, one-hundred fifty stu-
s ents - half of those participating in a
-: Latin America Solidarity Committee
rally against U.S. support for El
Salvador's murderous government -
-went to the Fleming Administration
Building asking for Duderstadt to con-
lemn the killings and support the
demonstration's indictment of the U.S.
government that made them possible.
But the students were met with a con-
temptuous silence and a series of lies
rather than an accountable president
and a fruitful dialogue. First they were
told Duderstadt was unavailable for the
Iay. Subsequently, when the demon-
8trators refused to leave the building,
Duderstadt magically became available
over the telephone - though Assistant
to the President Shirley Clarkson
claimed that Duderstadt had called in
while Vice President for Government
Relations Richard Kennedy claimed
that the office had contacted
t Clearly lied to and obviously
.s.tonewalled, the students called for
Duderstadt to meet with them in an
ppen forum with media present.
2 S " . ..ny **t ~ irinnt* # n *t # * m-,4nn

All of these lies from an
Administration professing accountabil-
ity is bad enough. The hypocrisy ac-
companying those lies is worse. Last
summer, Duderstadt, joined a number
of other U.S. university presidents in
speaking out against the Chinese gov-
ernment's brutal massacre in
Tianenmen Square. Duderstadt was all
too willing to grandstand over China, a
country that neither the United States
nor the University of Michigan can do
much to influence. But he continues to
maintain a steadfast silence on the
University's and the United States' role
in supporting the Salvadoran govern-
ment's violence.
Here at the University, U.S. Defense
Department contracts have helped de-
velop the napalm and chemical
weapons to which the Salvadoran
population has been subjected in almost
daily bombing raids for almost a
decade. And here at the University, a
sister university relationship exists
between the students at Michigan and
those at the University of El Salvador
- a complex which the U.S-trained
Salvadoran military has repeatedly in-
vaded. Last week, that same govern-
ment bombed it out of existence.
Apparently, Duderstadt is more con-
cerned about Defense Department
money than about students - either
here or in El Salvador. He refuses to
meet with one group or speak out on
behalf of the other. Perhaps his own
ties to Defense Department money -
through his research on lethal laser
,j,'rarnrc fnrhe IT C A irfrr -

By Mike Sobel
This is the last of a four-part series.
I have proposed in this series that HIV-
1 has no likely progenitor among the
many known retroviruses; that it came
neither from monkeys nor from any other
anima' virus. I have also proposed that
AIDS appeared after the discovery of
rDNA technology at a time when the mili-
tary was most likely using this technol-
ogy to conduct experiments in biowarfare.
In this part, I would like to point to
some anomolies among the retroviral
genomes, and specifically in HIV-1, which
might independently suggest that certain
retroviruses have been manipulated in
vitro - the end result of which was the
synthesis of AIDS.
First, there are truncated transmem-
brane proteins in clones of HTLV-IV and
STLV-III. As mentioned in part II, the
pathogenesis of HTLV-IV, a human retro-
virus isolated in healthy Senegalese, is
still under debate. STLV-III is a simian
retrovirus, found in African Green Mon-
In his 1987 article published in Na-
ture, Arya says that "Kornfield et al. have
also noted that HTLV-IV and STLV-III
may not be independent virus isolates but
result from transmission of the same virus
to different cell cultures in the laboratory."
This indicates that a monkey virus may be
related to a human retrovirus, not by natu-
ral mutation, but through laboratory
Second, in his 1987 article published
in Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, McClure re-
ports that a protease-like gene segment lo-
cated between ribonuclease H and the en-
donuclease genes of visna and EIAV (two
animal retrovirus which, like HIV-1 is of
the lenti category but do not seem to be
its progenitor), was related to a different
region in the simian retrovirus type 1
group (SRV-1). McClure believes that a
horizontal transfer of newly acquired ge-
netic information took place between an
SRV-I virus and one of the lentivirus
"How the protease-like segment was
horizontally transferred from its site of du-
plication to a nonhomologous region in
an other virus group is open to specula-
tion. Classic homologous recombination
cannot account for the translocation be-
cause the sequence surrounding the extra
segments are not at all similar." This
time, there seems to have been an enig-
matic transfer of genetic information be-
tween a monkey virus and a lenti virus.
Again, HIV-1 shares the pathogenic poten-
tial of lentiviruses while displaying the T4
tropism of monkey viruses.
Third, Hauber, in his 1987 article in
Proc Nall Acad Sci USA, asserts that

HIV-l's tat protein function seems to be
related to the "nuclear trans-acting gene
products EIA of adenovirus and large tu-
mor (T) antigen of simian virus type 40."
Adenovirus and SV40 are tumor viruses
and not retroviral at all. (In 1973, the Gor-
don Research Conference in New Hamp-
shire expressed much concern focused on
the possible biohazards relative to the use
of rDNA in tumor-causing viruses. Fur-
thermore, John Stockwell, an ex-CIA
agent with whom I spoke to on the phone,
mentioned that the CIA had been playing
around with SV40.
Fourth, HIV-1 seems to have some
mechanisms that may be novel in biol-
There are myriad more possibilities in
nature for recombination than are available
in the lab. Questions regarding how such a
sophisticated and lethal virus as HIV-1
could have been engineered, must be left
open to speculation as I cannot know what
specific techniques were tried or what
genes were available.
Yet, as I argued in part III, once the
probability of intense and careless experi-
mentation by the military is accepted, the
odds increase in favor of this claim. In his
1979 book, Recombinant DNA and Ge-
netic Experimentation, Morgan best sums
up this point: "It should be remembered
that for an organism to cause an epidemic
it must develop an extraordinary selective
advantage...evolutionary considerations

to suggest that if the military possessed
such a virus, they would consider Africa,
which in many areas is sparsely populated
and underdeveloped, an ideal playground
for experimentation.
Whether the virus leaked out acciden-@
tally or the CIA was conducting experi-
ments on human subjects, I cannot know.
Either is possible; the former because of
the unpredictable nature of pathogen re-
search mentioned in part III and the latter
because the CIA has a record of testing po-
tentially lethal agents on unwitting human
subjects (if the CIA tested psychochemi-
cals on U.S. citizens, they would have no
reservations about conducting equally-
lethal experiments on Africans). If the lat-
ter is true, then they underestimated the
virus' potential. It was probably not until
the spread of the epidemic that they real-
ized they had literally created a monster.
As I mentioned in the beginning of
this series, neither the scientific commu-
nity nor the media has touched this claim.
The media coverage of the AIDS epidemic,
in general, has been abysmal. The scien-
tific community's reaction to the epidemic*
has been petty, scientifically conservative
and often confrontational. I have shown
how reasonable doubt can be raised about
the virus itself. The possibility that the
AIDS virus was genetically engineered
must be openly discussed and hopefully re-
futed by the scientific community. This
university possesses a wealth of research

'This university possesses a wealth of research facilities in ge-
netic engineering. It has also contributed to biowarfare re-
search. I challenge those specialists to provide convincing evi-
dence that AIDS is not a human creation.'

make it almost impossible to conceive of
a situation where a recombinant plasmid,
or an infected host, acquires unwittingly a
special advantage. I therefore do not see
the case for significant concern, even
about conjectured hazards, with recombi-
nant DNA technology unless work is car-
ried out with known dangerous
What are some possible scenarios? I
believe that if the military was conducting
experiments with retroviruses, either by
creating hybrids with existing viruses or
by adding genes, they probably did not un-
derstand the mechanism or full potential of
their new pathogen. In other words, the
fervor created by the promise of rDNA
technology and the relatively careless na-
ture of biowarfare experimentation in the
past, generates the possibility that the
AIDS virus was a product of many exper-
iments with viruses, the longterm effects
of which could not be known.
Because of the history of military ac-
tivity in the Third World, it is reasonable

facilities in genetic engineering. It has
also contributed to biowarfare research. I
challenge those specialists to provide con-
vincing evidence that AIDS is not a hu-
man creation.
Ultimately the possibility that HIV-1
was genetically engineered is much less
palatable than accepting AIDS as the re-
sult of natural and uncontrollable events.
In his 1987 article published in Scientific
American, Robert Gallo, one of the pi-
oneers in HIV research, maintains that the
moral of the AIDS epidemic is that the
scientific community has displayed hubris
in believing that they had conquered infec-
tious diseases. He humbly bows down be-
fore the awesome power of nature whichO
he believes is never truly conquered. I am
sure that Gallo would be less willing to
bow down to a team of military biowarfare
researchers, offering morals like "human
abuses of nature will never be conquered,"
or "humankind has conquered itself."
Mike Sobel is a Daily News reporter.

. .*..........,..,......1' 411 1tY .,11:.'.":.1 ........ .. ..4.


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