During the Student Strike Against the War last March, one of the U-M demands decided upon by Anti-War Action! was “Declare that the campus will not host the newly proposed Army Biotechnology Center.” In December of last year, the Army announced they were soliciting proposals for the creation of an Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies, and the University decided they would apply for what could mean $25 million direct funding from the Army for five years, renewable for an additional five years. If the application is sucessful, the Institute would nearly double the research directly funded by the Department for Defense, which totaled $37 million in fiscal year 2001, the latest data avaliable. (That figure doesn’t include defense-related research conducted for other branches of government – see this page for total federal research funding.)
The Goodspeed Update has obtained the final proposal submitted to the Army by the University of Michigan:
> “The Army Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies: A proposal from the University of Michigan”
“The University of Michigan proposes to organize and direct the Army Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies (ICB) to address the changing needs of the Army. The vision of the Institute is to pursue broad scientific discovery in biotechnology that can be used to increase the performance and survivability of the future warfighter.” reads the executive summary of the 26-page document that outlines resources at the U-M and plans of inquiry by University faculty.
Proposed areas of research include a nanosensor able to monitor the functions of individual cells within a soldier and transmit them to an external device, interface systems between computers and the human nervous system, and “microfluid” technology to administer drugs to soldiers in the field. The proposal assures the “Direct involvement of Army scientists and engineers from the beginning will ensure that the ICB stays focused on Army goals and the Objective Force. The Army ICB Program Manager will be an active member of the Executive Committee.”
Meanwhile, it’s unclear whether the technologies created by the proposed institute would protect U.S. soldiers from foreign powers’ chemical and biological weapons, or whether the Institute is part of a strategy of the Army to develop the capability to conduct full biological and chemical war in clear violation of the Biological Weapons Convention and other international treaties. The watchdog group Sunshine Project announced last week the U.S. Army had patented a biological weapons delivery system in clear violation of international conventions.