Jeffrey Kaye
13 min readMay 14, 2018


Secret Report: US Military Approved Offensive Use of Biological Warfare on Enemy Agriculture in World War 2

In the closing days of World War 2, the Joint Chiefs of Staff approved the offensive use of germ warfare aimed at destroying enemy crops, placing final approval at the discretion its top commanders in the field, according to Office of Strategic Services (OSS) documents formerly classified “Secret” and “Top Secret” held in the National Archives.

Actual approval by U.S. authorities for the offensive use of any type of biological warfare has never been published before. As we shall see, it was the practice of the U.S. government to only pass on such orders orally. Most likely this was because the orders involved actions widely deemed to be illegal.

The purpose of plant biological warfare (BW), according to a Chemical Warfare Service document written soon after the war, was “to destroy or reduce the value of crop plants.” Practically, the practice amounted to a war crime. The intent was to deny food to enemy troops, increase hunger, if not produce famine among the population of combatant nations, and along with biological warfare against human targets, to sow panic and fear among civilian populations.

While it was known that the United States had by 1942 been developing a robust biological warfare capacity, no document had previously showed that any final approval for the use of germ warfare had been given.

During World War 2, responsibility for the BW program was placed in the War Department. In January 1944, the Secretary of War told the Chief of Staff of the Chemical Warfare Service (CWS), which was in charge of both chemical and biological warfare due to their supposed “similarity of action,” “the time has arrived that for military reasons work should be initiated for carrying on intensively the offensive as well as the defensive side of BW in preparation for protection against attack….”

[Update, August 28, 2022: Corroborative evidence of the activation of offensive use of anticrop…