Serendipitous CIA Shellfish Toxin!


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(Finally, a topic that the…slightly optimistic…topic-predictor widget doesn’t think is similar to an existing topic. I’ve been hunting one for ages.)

So, in the course of looking for something else entirely, I ran across a memo concerning the NIH’s desire to obtain an unspecified exotic shellfish toxin from the CIA (We can’t all have cold war mycotoxins…)

I’ve been doing some perfunctory poking to see if I can identify all the names mentioned. Scowcroft(lots of hats) and Colby(Executive Director) are both pretty big names; Sayre Stevens(Associate Director for Science and Technology) also gets mentioned(and has the decency of having a really uncommon name). David Elliott I’m not sure about.

Nobody seems to know the identity of the shellfish; though my layman’s guess for ‘toxic and medically interesting’ would be some flavor of cone snail. Any takers?

Also of interest: this memo is from 1975; and apparently the shellfish toxin that is only now being requested was one that Nixon had told them to stop playing with in late 1969; after some unflattering reports about what they had in mind for it; but the collection survived at least in part for some years thereafter on the initiative of some people involved in the project.

Fun facts!


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