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Terror Bugs

On Dreamland recently, Michael Carroll talked about Lab 257, a germ lab situated near a Long Island suburb, that may have unleashed Lyme disease and West Nile. Now we've learned that researchers want to open a new germ lab?in Boston! One easy way to use germs as weapons? Send them to your enemy on insects.

Lee Dye writes in abcnews.com that researcher Sonny Ramaswamy thinks insects could become effective weapons in the war on terrorism. A fly, or even a tiny aphid, could distribute diseases over a wide area. He says, "It wouldn't be as spectacular as the World Trade Center, but it would be more insidious."

When he heard about the military trying to flush terrorists out of the Tora Bora caves in Afghanistan, he says, "They weren't having much success?Let?flies go in and bite those suckers." These flies would be dipped in anthrax first, which they would deposit on the skin of the terrorists. When they scratched their fly bites, they would rub the anthrax into their skin.

Theo Emery writes that 150 scientists are asking Boston to block the building of a bioterrorism lab in the middle of the city. Their letter says, "There are real and potentially catastrophic risks to the health and safety of people in the local and surrounding communities."

Boston University received a $128 million federal grant for the lab, along with the University of Texas. The two universities will work with the five other U.S. labs that already do research on anthrax, plague and Ebola. "I have become very strongly convinced that this laboratory does not serve a public health function," says Dr. David Ozonoff. "In fact, it's counterproductive with respect to public health, and it does present risk to the community."

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