Friday | October 03, 2003
Bacteria in Iraq
Kay's "we didn't find shit in Iraq" report notes that it found "live strains of the deadly botulinum bacteria" in Iraq. This will undoubtedly be used by the administration and its apologists as evidence of Saddam's deadly aspirations (or something like that).
RR, a PhD candidate in pathology and laboratory medicine, wrote in to explain what that meant (or actually, what it didn't mean:
Clostridium botulinum, the bacteria which produces botulinum toxin, is a normal soil bacterium. You've probably ingested large quantities of it yourself, if you've ever eaten vegetables straight out of a garden without washing them thoroughly, or if you've ever eaten unfiltered honey. Live C. botulinum is used in undergraduate microbiology labs as a teaching tool...the live bacteria are not dangerous, are ubiquitous in nature, and are ubiquitous in microbiology labs around the globe--even those not hell-bent on the destruction of American liberty & whatnot.In other words, Kay was reaching for anything that might help the administration make its case, and this is the best he could do.
Update: There's more to RR's email that I omitted since I couldn't find any references to Bush's speech. Now that Bush's words are being circulated, I offer the rest:
Anyhoo, notice the parsing of words--Bush emphasizes "live strains" and "bacteria", not just because "live strains" sounds scary, but because it is, I am sure, technically true. But that claim is also probably technically true of any American backyard, and thus is completely meaningless.Posted October 03, 2003 09:19 AM | Comments (116)