Two Med School Doctors Criticize Use of Chemical, Germ Weapons


Two doctors at the Medical School have expressed concern over the possible unforseen effects of chemical and biological warfare.

There is evidence that the U.S. is using herbicides and other chemicals in the Vietnam war. Dr. Robert M. Goldwyn. instructor in Surgery, said yesterday. Re added concern over greater usage of such weapons.

In an article appearing in the New England Journal of Medicine. Goldwyn and Dr. Victor W. Sidel. associate in preventive Medicine, said that the humanitarian arguments for use of non-chemical weapons do not take into account their unpredictable after effects.

"The position that once the Pandora's box of chemical and biological weapon is opened, only the most benign will come for the is unrealistic." they said.

These weapons are likely to he used against non-combatant populations and there is no telling what the unfavorable ecologic, social, and medical after effects might be, Goldwyn added.


Goldwyn said that he felt it was the particular duty of physicians to make the public aware of the dangers involved in germ warfare and to provoke debate on the desirability of U.S. stockpiling of chemical weapons. Goldwin and Sidel members of Physicians for Social Responsibility cited a plant in Indiana that had employed 300 workers until 1964 solely for the production of nerve gas as indicative of the U.S. ability to wage gas warfare.

Not Enough Discussion

There has not been enough discussion on the question within the medical profession, Goldwyn said. Physicians have a special responsibility in this area because a nation cannot develop biological weapons without the aid of doctrs, he commented.

The danger also exists of an increase in the use of these weapons, Goldwyn said. He claimed that a country might mistake a natural epidemic for one artificially induced, and retaliate.

In the past, many have argued that gas and germ warfare is more humane than other forms because they are not lethal. Goldwyn cited the death of an Australian soldier due to gas as sufficient refutation of that argument.