Anthrax in America

In the years since September 11, 2001 organizations and individuals are again being called upon to ensure worker safety as well as contribute to overall citizen security, under the umbrella of Homeland Security and a wider war against terror.  But this cannot be successful enough without the help and partnership of government.

With the historic human event disasters brought to our country on 9-11, coupled with existing natural events like earthquakes, technical events like energy outages and terrorist attacks utilizing different means, risk, as we know it, has taken on a new level of public responsibility and private concern.

September 11 demonstrated that the ability of larger companies to continue to operate can be dependent on the survivability of their subcontractors — the smaller companies.  Many small companies were adversely affected from the events of September 11 and the subsequent anthrax attacks.  Two years later, they face the same situation.  This is too bad and it could lead to a wider problem and greater danger.

An example of this potential breakdown occurred here in Florida less than two weeks following 9-11 when the Boca Raton offices of American Media Incorporated (AMI publishes the National Enquirer) were contaminated by an anthrax attack through the mail. 
Tragically, a photo editor of one of the Enquirer‘s sister publications died after opening an envelope containing anthrax spores. The entire AMI office complex in Boca Raton was closed and remains fenced off and quarantined to this day.  AMI moved its headquarters to another building in town.

If this is a glimpse into our future, let me be one of the louder voices urging America to change course now.

Industry large and small is simply not ready.  That an anthrax attack on a media conglomerate as large as AMI could cause it permanent damage is proof positive.

So what should we do?

To mitigate the enduring threat from anthrax, there currently exists a reliable, affordable and plentiful way to make us safer:  Methyl bromide, a fumigant used to kill termites and many other pests, with a safety record that goes back more than 50 years.  

In addition, clinical research by the University of Florida’s Dr. Rudi Scheffrahn has shown methyl bromide kills anthrax, and it does it without any of the permanent damage, huge expense and lasting impact that the so-called cures (like the ones ludicrously imposed on AMI) cannot even begin to rival.

Why don’t you know this?  Dr. Henry Miller, former of the FDA, and now of Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, offers an answer:  "What’s potentially standing in the way of this important advancement in America’s homeland security?  Would you believe, the United Nations?"

This is because, as Miller states: "The U.N.’s regulation of various chemicals applied to agriculture and food production is among its most egregious failures. Consider, for example, the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, which took effect in 1989.  In essence, this is an agreement to limit or phase out various chemicals, and although it stipulates that measures taken to protect the ozone layer from depletion should be based on relevant scientific knowledge, taking into account technical and economic considerations, appropriate balancing of all these factors has been lacking."

One of the most lacking balancing acts has been on the insistence by the U.N. and other international voices that the world quickly eradicate all use and supply of methyl bromide.

While we could debate other environmental merits, one thing we know for sure.  Methyl Bromide kills anthrax.  It’s a fact our EPA doesn’t want to talk about, and yet our government and the U.N. are joining hand-in-hand down the path of complete product elimination.  

The new Congress should do the following:  Hold hearings immediately to examine the enduring anthrax threat, gather information about hazard mitigation and learn from the experts about what can be done.  At the very least the House and Senate could take action to preserve an adequate supply of this product without violating any of the provisions of the treaty.

They could do it if they wanted to, but thus far they have chosen not to act to take this important economic step and national security stride.


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