The CIA maintained a clandestine "anticrop warfare" research program targeted the early 1960s at a number of countries throughout the world, according to documents released yesterday by the intelligence agency.
At the same time the agency funded research into using unspecified small cold-blooded animals to deliver both chemical an biological agents and was deeply involved in studying the transmission of viruses through the use of birds, according to the documents.
The information was contained in 1,470 pages of heavily censored documents related to the CIA's Mk-ULTRA mind contro' program that stretched from 1950 through the mid 1960s.
Full records of the CIA's chemical and biological programs were reportedly destroyed in 1973 by Sidney Gottlieb, former head of the MK-ULTRA project. Gottlieb and others connected with MK-ULTRA are schelduled to testify Sept. 20 before Sen. Edward M. Kenney's (D-Mass) health subcommitee.
The documents released yesterday do not indicate if any actual attacks against crops were carried out. However, one 1964 memo notes that data was being gathered by MK-ULTRA officials on crops in "key locales" around the world.
The Defence Department conducted a large-scale defoliation program throughout the 1960s in Vietnam. However, the CIA has never been publicly implicated in either defoliation or attacks on specific crops.
The records also show that in 1962 the CIA paid $7,500 to an unnamed researcher to study brain stimulation techniques on cold-blooded animals in order to guide them in delivering chemical or biologiacal agents.
The CIA funded other researchers between 1961 and 1965 to study certain types of viruses that are carried by birds. The studies were apparently carried out as part of a program to establish detection procedures for such viruses entering the United States, according to the documents.
It has perviously been reported that a similar program run by Smithsonian Institution was covertly funded by the Army's biological warfare unit at Fort Detrick in the early 1960s. Research data from that program was turned over to CIA by the Army, according to knowledge sources. The Smithsonian has denied it conducted any bird virus studies directly funded by the CIA.