Yellow Rain Essay

990 words - 4 pages

Trichothecene myotoxins are low molecular weight (250-500 Daltons) nonvolatile compounds
produced by more than 350 species of fungi, it is pathogenic to animals and humans. All
trichothecenes share a common 12, 13-epoxytrychothene skeleton and are subdivided into 4
chemical groups (A, B, C, D). T-2 myotoxin is the most extensively studied of the
trichothecenes, and, according to current declassified literature, it is the only common myotoxin
known to have been used as a biological weapon.
Needless to say, it being a pathogen, it easily breeds off and multiplies to the body through
micro organisms and bacteria. Not like other biological toxins that don’t affect the skin, this
myotoxin is so ...view middle of the document...

The Soviet Union denied the said allegations saying that it was a ‘big lie’,
and replied that it was the United States that used chemical weapons in Vietnam. This accusation
prompted the United Nations to conduct an investigation in Southeast Asia. It involved doctors,
scientists, and witnesses. They collected samples from Cambodia. However, the witnesses had
conflicting testimonies and the analyzed samples were not conclusive. They interviewed some
refugees who claimed that they were infected and acquired the symptoms but found out that they
merely had fungal skin infections. The investigators admitted that there was evidence of a
chemical attack but that it may have been caused in some other instances, everything was
inconclusive.
The Honeybee Hypothesis, these charges were disputed by teams from Harvard University in the
early 80’s. The Meselson team traveled to Laos and conducted their own investigation. They
noted that T-2 mycotoxin occurs naturally in the region and that witness’ testimonies
are questionable. They suggested that the ‘yellow rain’ was a fecal matter of honeybees.
The US government argued to this findings that the pollen was added deliberately to make
the substance inhalable and that the toxin will not affect the human body. Meselson responded
that it is improbable for somebody to produce a chemical weapon by ‘gathering pollen
predigested by honeybees’. The fact that pollen originated in Southeast Asia which makes it
impossible for Russia to produce it domestically and that they would have to import tons of
pollen from Vietnam. Meselson’s work was described as ‘compelling evidence that yellow rain
might have a benign natural explanation’.
At present, two main points exist in the ‘yellow rain’ controversy. One, that it was supported by
insufficient evidence, two, that it was regarded as an erroneous allegation. A CIA report
indicated that the Soviet Union had weapons that has T-2 mycotoxin, but that there was no
YELLOW RAIN 5
evidence that the said area that was expose to mycotoxin had actually have...

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