House orders Pentagon to reveal whether it turned ticks into biological weapons

House lawmakers passed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) last week that ordered the Pentagon to reveal whether the U.S. military made ticks into biological weapons.

The amendment, proposed by Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., requires the Pentagon to examine “whether the Department of Defense experimented with ticks and other insects regarding its use as a biological weapon between the years of 1950 and 1975.”

House lawmakers passed a bill last week that ordered to Pentagon to review whether it turned ticks into biological weapons. 

House lawmakers passed a bill last week that ordered to Pentagon to review whether it turned ticks into biological weapons.  (hub.jhu.edu)

Smith said on the House floor Friday that his amendment tasks the DOD’s inspector general “to ask the hard questions and report back.”

"If true, what were the parameters of the program? Who ordered it?" Smith said during a debate for the amendment. "Was there any accidental release anywhere or at any time of any of the diseased ticks?"

He said he was inspired to add the amendment after reading material that suggested: “significant research had been done at U.S. government facilities including Fort Detrick, Maryland and Plum Island, New York to turn ticks and other insects into bioweapons.”

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Smith, a long-time advocate for raising awareness about Lyme disease, is also the co-chair of the House Lyme Disease Caucus. Earlier this year, he introduced a bill that would authorize $180 million in funding for Lyme disease research, prevention and treatment programs.

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The House will meet with the Senate soon to reconcile two versions of defense spending bills.