UK exprtimented with biowarfare in World War II, report says

During World War II, British newspaper The Guardian reports, British scientists experimented with biological warfare.

Though the British were already known to have made over five million anthrax-filled to cakes to effect the cattle supply in Germany, the Guardian states that a War Cabinet committee released files to the National Archives that show scientists' efforts extended to far more methods.

The Guardian reports that the "extensive list of the contagious agents and plagues that could be turned into weapons of mass destruction" included ways to spread foot-and-mouth disease, dysentery, cholera and typhoid."

The British were, at the time, aware that biological warfare had been banned by the 1925 Geneva protocol but continued to experiment secretly, The Guardian reports.

Though the released documents show that leaders at the time did not believe a biological agent could turn the tide of the war, they "might cause grave embarrassment at a critical stage in the conflict," according to The Guardian.

An unsealed report from January 1941 shows that scientists believed the diseases most likely to be useful included typhoid, dysentery, cholera, anthrax, foot-and-mouth disease, rinderpest, glanders and swine fever.

"We have not seen such a detailed list before," Dr Brian Balmer, of University College London, told The Guardian. "The process most likely involved starting with a list of likely sources for infections and then finding that some are difficult to aerosolize or are unstable or are otherwise unsuitable for weaponization."

Neither side used biological weapons during the Second World War.