Sebelius-backed biotech firm reorganizing under criminal probe
KBA urged Homeland Security to locate bioweapons lab in Tornado Alley
By Rady Ananda
The head of Health and Human Services not only denies that Americans have a right to bodily health and food of their choice, but Kathleen Sebelius is hell bent on spending taxpayer money to promote genetically modified food and drugs. One of her projects, Kansas Bioscience Authority, a publicly funded venture enterprise developed to promote biotechnology, is currently under criminal investigation. CEO Tom Thornton has resigned.
KBA also lobbied the Dept. of Homeland Security for the highly controversial bioweapons and cattle disease lab in the state, along with former Governor Sebelius, now President Obama's Cabinet Secretary. Under her governorship and full support, the Kansas Economic Growth Act of 2004 passed, funding KBA’s mission with $581 million in tax revenue to develop a bioscience industry in Kansas.
The Johnson County District Attorney’s office recently joined a Kansas Senate committee’s investigation of KBA, which began at least two months ago after spending irregularities came to the attention of state Senators. Part of the alleged wrongdoing includes awarding contracts to out-of-state firms in which former CEO Tom Thornton may have a financial interest, and concern that several executives earn over $100,000 a year – beyond what public service employees generally make.
Governor Sam Brownbeck ordered a forensic audit of the public agency, which, until recently, KBA refused. On April 15th, Gov. Brownbeck released the following statement:
“I continue to have very serious concerns regarding leadership at the Kansas Bioscience Authority. It is essential we get to the bottom of the recently raised issues that prompted a criminal investigation. The next step should be a truly independently overseen forensic audit of KBA. We have asked for this for more than a month. The KBA also needs a new President and CEO who has no ties to the current regime. There is too much at stake for KBA to continue to refuse this legitimate scrutiny of how the authority spends hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars.”
Following the Governor’s statement, Thornton stepped down. David Vranicar, who runs Heartland BioVentures, KBA’s commercialization division, now serves as KBA’s interim president and CEO. Throughout the growing controversy, KBA issued no formal statements on its website until May 2nd, when Vranicar assured stakeholders “full transparency and cooperation” with police and other authorities.
Rather than address the criminal issues, former Kansas Governor and KBA Chairman John Carlin complained to the Topeka Capital-Journal that the “Senate committee's inquiry could jeopardize KBA's credibility.” However, it’s not an inquiry that damages a firm’s credibility as much as the behavior which prompts it.
Bill Bullard of R-CALF USA, an independent ranchers organization, is one of many who have expressed horror at the site selection for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) in Tornado Alley, which KBA and Sebelius both promoted. “Foot-and-mouth disease research currently is conducted on a New York island – Plum Island – where previous, inadvertent releases of the virus have not impacted U.S. livestock.”
He sees no reason “to expose our U.S. cattle herd to a heightened risk of disease introduction by locating the NBAF in Manhattan, Kansas.” The proposed NBAF site is located at the orange dot in the tornado map below:
Bullard believes that “politics, greed and corruption” played into the site selection. “We expect this current probe of the KBA to be but the tip of the iceberg,” he added.
By its own admission, KBA was “a driving force on the NBAF initiative.” The lab plans to develop bioweapons to defend against an agro-terrorist attack and to study foot-and-mouth disease. Last November, the National Research Council estimated a 70% chance a pathogen would escape that lab, based on info provided by DHS. The cattle industry could incur $50 billion in losses from an FMD outbreak, the NRC estimated. Regardless, DHS continues to approve the site selection.
It’s not like this hasn’t happened before. Pathogen release by germ labs has caused widespread economic damage in the past, resulting in the slaughter of millions of animals. In 2007, the UK suffered its second outbreak of FMD in a decade, which investigators linked to an FMD research facility. This year, Korea repeated the exercise after an FMD outbreak, slaughtering two million animals, 90 percent of which were disease-free.
As Secretary of Health and Human Services, Sebelius asserted in a 2010 lawsuit that American citizens have no right to bodily and physical health, no right to freedom of contract, and no right to eat the foods of their choice. Siting a bioweapons lab in Tornado Alley therefore, won’t infringe the non-right to bodily health, but, also, she apparently believes we have no right to a protected cattle supply either.
Sebelius is unequivocal in her support of genetically modified food and drugs. Last November, she granted $1 billion in taxpayer funds for the advancement of biotechnology. Meanwhile, as overseer of the Food and Drug Administration, she is using armed agents to harass the natural, drug-free and GMO-free dairy industry, seizing its products, and putting out of business small family operations across the U.S.
Sebelius also headed Obama’s swine flu hoax in 2009, in collusion with the World Health Organization. Last year, the prestigious British Medical Journal revealed that several industry paid scientists guided the World Health Organization’s pandemic policy and handling of the costly hoax. WHO even went so far as to change the definition of pandemic, deleting “enormous number of deaths” so that it could raise the mild H1N1 swine flu rating to the highest level possible (Phase 6), thus triggering vaccine contracts worldwide.
Under Sebelius, several U.S. states passed unconstitutional mandatory vaccine laws. (Also at Scribd) With government support, vaccines are a lucrative business for the biotech industry, with a growing list of dead bodies, narcolepsy, brain damage, and other ill health effects. Several nations have banned the use of some drugs, while ending their mandatory vaccine programs.
In response to KBA’s actions, the lunacy of locating a bioweapons lab in Tornado Alley (and a FMD research site in cattle country), and given the current criminal probe, R-CALF is demanding that Homeland Security relocate the proposed lab. In its letter to DHS head, Janet Napolitano, R-CALF accused DHS of exemplifying “how politics, greed and corruption are undermining our nation’s food safety and food security.”
In its letter to Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Chair of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, R-CALF urged her “to strike from the federal budget all funding for the proposed National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility ... and to initiate a thorough, probing investigation to determine the extent to which the KBA influenced DHS’ decision to expose our U.S. cattle herd to a heightened risk of disease introduction by locating the NBAF in Manhattan, Kansas.”
As Kansas authorities explore criminal wrongdoing by KBA, they face some formidable backers of the biotech industry. In 2009, Forbes named Kathleen Sebelius the 56th most influential woman in the world. In 2010, she reached the 23rd spot.
Prosecuting corruption isn’t a strong suit of an administration that only wants to “look forward,” but perhaps sanity will prevail and, at the very least, the invidious bioweapons lab will be relocated. Maybe next, they'll decommission those nuclear power plants built in earthquake zones.