Ministry of Defence
035/99 February 9, 1999


An independent review, commissioned by the Ministry of Defence, into
the Biological Defence Trials of the 1960s-70s is published today.

The review was undertaken by Professor Brian Spratt, an eminent and
leading microbiologist who was recommended by the President of the
Royal Society.

The MoD welcomed the main findings of Professor Spratt's report:

- That the trials would have caused no harm to the vast majority
of people.

- That, although there may have been an unquantifiable risk of
infection in a small number of people who had a serious underlying
disease such as cystic fibrosis, any such infections would have been
infections of the chest or blood and would have occurred within days
of release of the bacteria.

- That it is extremely unlikely that there is any link between the
bacteria released in the trials and health problems reported by
people who have sufferred chronic ill health, miscarriages, or who
have children with disabilities.

The MoD also confirmed today that another independent review will be
initiated. This second study will address the earlier series of
trials involving the release of zinc cadmium sulphide, to establish
whether they could have led to any adverse health effects.

Similar US studies have concluded that there is no effect on health
at the low concentrations which would have been experienced during
the trials, but a further, independent study will be initiated to
confirm whether these conclusions are valid for the specific
conditions of the UK trials. MoD's Chief Scientific Adviser has
already written to the Royal Society requesting that they nominate a
suitable individual.

For more information and copies of the Executive Summary, please
contact Kate O'Connor, Defence Press Office, 0171 218 7924. The full
report is available in the Libraries of the House.