The fact that Dugway Proving Ground plans to test the Venezuelan equine encephalomyelitis (VEE) organism concerns Dr. Naomi Franklin, a research professor at the University of Utah.
"As far as I am aware, it (VEE) is not any serious hazard to human health," she said Friday. The disease afflicts horses, not humans."Therefore, the question is: Why are they using that particular organism?" Franklin said.
She has a guess about the reason Dugway wants to work with VEE: "It can be used as a vehicle for cloning other genetic entities."
Franklin worries that the Army may use the new BL-3 lab to experiment with genetically cloned germs. Mutant organisms may pose a threat not fully understood.
In February, the National Institutes of Health's Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee voted to allow the military to carry out biological defense-related animal studies at a New York laboratory that has a BL-3 rating.