N.Y. sues feds over top secret Plum Island lab

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 1998:

New York attorney general Dennis
Vacco on May 1 sued the USDA for allegedly failing
to prevent pollution of Long Island Sound
resulting from operations at the supposedly ultrasecure
Plum Island Animal Disease Laboratory.
“The most gruesome animal experiment
stuff I’ve ever seen was at Plum Island,” State
University of New York–College at Old Westbury
professor of American Studies Karl Grossman
recently told ANIMAL PEOPLE. “They look
into foreign animal diseases there. It’s a horrid
scene, with cattle and horses tethered in stalls,
dying.” As a reporter for the now defunct L o n g
Island Press, Grossman said, he “was on the
island three times,” investigating allegations that
“the claimed sealed systems they have were not
working,” including a case “about 20 years back”
when “cattle in a holding pen outside ended up
picking up a disease from work going on inside.”

“The USDA has said through the years,”
Grossman continued, “that it is only involved in
‘defensive’ biological warfare, to safeguard animals
in the U.S. from other nations.”
But the Plum Island facility has long had
a sinister reputation.
“The USDA took it over in 1954 from
the U.S. Army,” Grossman recalled, “which during
World War II used the place for the biological
division of its chemical warfare branch. L o n g
Island Newsday once did a major piece about how
in the early 1950s the Army had plans to develop
on Plum Island diseases with which to poison
Soviet livestock. A buddy of mine, J o h n
M c D o n a l d, one of N e w s d a y’s best investigative
reporters, got solid documentation on this from
the Army, but the Army insisted it never went
ahead with the plan. Newsday also did a piece, far
less solid, suggesting that African swine fever
virus from Plum Island was possibly used by the
CIA to poison pigs in Cuba.”
Canadian Federal Court judge Marc
Nadon on April 22 ruled that Harvard University
may not patent the genetically engineered oncomouse
in Canada. Although Canada has issued
patents on single-celled life forms, Nadon wrote,
“A complex life form does not fit within the current
parameters of the Patent Act without stretching
the meaning of the words to the breaking point,
which I am not prepared to do.” Bred for use in
cancer research, oncomouse has been patented in
the U.S. since December 1992, but the European
Commission in March 1995 rejected legislation to
allow European recognition of such patents.
Huntingdon Life Sciences Inc., of East
Millstone, New Jersey, in April “agreed to pay
$50,000 to settle federal charges that it violated the
Animal Welfare Act,” Associated Press reported.
“Huntingdon did not admit any wrongdoing under
the settlement. But it agreed to comply with the
law, give $20,000 to a nonprofit group promoting
lab tests that don’t use animals, and spend
$20,000 to improve” primate living quarters. “The
remaining $10,000 will be paid to the federal government.”
The USDA charges reportedly resulted
from surprise inspections of the Huntingdon
premises, independent of a parallel PETA undercover
investigation whose findings PETA disclosed
in June 1997

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