Some Americans have long been concerned that tick borne illnesses are the result of the U.S. government weaponizing insects, having been labeled “conspiracy theorists” for making such claims. But now, some members of the U.S. House are voicing their own concerns that the Pentagon may have in fact weaponized disease-carrying ticks and released them—either accidentally or purposefully.
Unbeknownst to many, the House voted last week to require the Pentagon inspector general to inform Congress of experiments involving disease-infected insects. The amendment was quietly adopted via voice vote on July 11 during the House debate on the fiscal 2020 defense authorization bill, according to Roll Call.
Republican Rep. Christopher Smith from New Jersey authored the amendment that orders the Pentagon inspector general to “conduct a review of whether the Department of Defense experimented with ticks and other insects regarding use as a biological weapon between the years of 1950 and 1975.”
Smith is a co-chairman of the Congressional Lyme Disease Caucus and advocates for increased awareness of the disease and funding for research into finding a much needed cure for the disease that is diagnosed between 300,000 and 427,000 times each year, despite the diagnoses being notoriously difficult to come by.
According to the amendment—co-sponsored by Maryland Republican Andy Harris and Minnesota Democrat Collin Peterson—the inspector general must provide the House and Senate Armed Services committees with a report including “whether any ticks or insects used in such experiments were released outside of any laboratory by accident or experiment design,” if the review reveals that the Pentagon did in fact experiment with tick-borne illnesses.
While U.S. President Richard Nixon banned government research into biological weapons back in 1969, according to Smith, it is possible that research into protecting military personnel from biological weapons attacks may have actually continued.“We need answers and we need them now,” Smith said.
A new book—Bitten: The Secret History of Lyme Disease and Biological Weapons—has brought the idea of weaponized insects into the mainstream, making the case that the Pentagon engaged in such research and highlighting potential connections between experiments and the spread of tick borne illnesses.
President of the Lyme Disease Association, Pat Smith, said Monday:
“We need to find out: is there anything in this research that was supposedly done that can help us to find information that is germane to patient health and combating the spread of the disease.”
The Senate’s defense authorization bill passed without their own version of the weaponized ticks amendment and it remains unclear whether or not a version including the amendment will reach the desk of U.S President Donald Trump.