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Is UK planning use of chemical agents for crowd control?

By Lynn Herrmann     Feb 8, 2012 in Science
London - A group of scientists in Britain, commissioned by the government to research new developments in neuroscience of use to the military now says the government may be readying itself to use “incapacitating chemical agents” for crowd control.
Commissioned by the Royal Society to research new potentials in neuroscience that might be of use to the military, leading scientists in the working group have concluded the government may be considering a loophole in the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) which would allow use of the chemical agents in domestic law enforcement, exceeding the limited use of such chemical irritants as CS gas in riot control
A report, Brain Waves - Neuroscience, conflict and security, published Tuesday by the Royal Society, the U.K.’s national academy of sciences, looks at the controversial issue of possible uses of neuroscience research by military or security forces for improving troop performance or diminishing enemy performance. It also looks at the potential for using the research in law enforcement.
The report notes there is no “absolutely safe incapacitating chemical weapon,” nor is it “technically feasible” to produce one, due to inherent variables such as age, size and health of the target population, secondary injury and required medical aftercare.
Rod Flowers, chairman of the paper’s working group and Professor of Biochemical Pharmacology at Queen Mary University of London, said, “We know that neuroscience research has the potential to deliver great social benefit -- researchers come closer every day to finding effective treatments for diseases and disorders such as Parkinson’s, depression, schizophrenia, epilepsy and addiction. However, understanding of the brain and human behavior coupled with developments in drug delivery also highlight ways of degrading human performance that could possibly be used in new weapons, especially incapacitating chemical agents,” Wired reports.
Also in the report’s key findings, Flowers notes countries adhering to the CWC need to address the definition and status of incapacitating chemical agents.
“This is why it is so important that UK government is clear about its reasons for the changes made to its interpretation of the law enforcement exemption in the CWC. It's absolutely crucial that countries adhering to the CWC address the definition of incapacitating chemical agents under the CWC at the next Review Conference in 2013,” Flowers added in a discussion of the report.
More about Crowd control, Chemical, incapacitating, Neuroscience, social benefit
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