Disclaimer: As of 1 February 2008, the Sunshine Project is suspending its operations. Although this website is no longer updated, it remains online as an archive of our activities and publications from 2000 through 2008. If you have any questions, please contact us by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your interest.
Sunshine So Far: A Brief History of the Project
The Sunshine Project came into existence when Jan van Aken, a German biologist, crossed paths with Edward Hammond, an American policy researcher, and Susana Pimiento, a Colombian lawyer working in the US. Finding that we shared an intense commitment to avert the dangers of new weapons stemming form advances in biotechnology, we came together to form a small new international non-governmental organization to work on biological weapons issues.
But van Aken had a head start. In late 1999, he formed the Sunshine Project, e.V., a German non-profit association. The Project's name, a suggestion by van Aken's former co-worker Charles Margulis, is a reference to the fact that many biological weapons are quickly broken down and rendered harmless by exposure to bright sunlight.
Following telephone, e-mail, and finally, face-to-face conversations that started in late 1999, in early 2000 we made the decision to bring our activities together. With a joint program and commitment to build an international team and organization, Hammond and Pimiento set about establishing the Sunshine Project in the US as a non-profit corporation.
We assembled offices in Seattle, Washington and Hamburg, Germany. In April 2000, the Project began program work in earnest.
Initial funding was generously provided by the Hatzfeldt Foundation, the HKH Foundation and C. Deans Crystle Foundation to take up a three part work agenda on biological weapons: human genomics, treaty compliance, and biotechnology in the drug war. (Please see our program descriptions on this website for more detailed information.)
First out of the gate was the Project's work on biological weapons designed to eradicate illicit crops. The Project is seeking a global ban on the use of biological agents in forced crop eradication. The Sunshine Project brought this issue into the intergovernmental limelight in May, 2000 in advocacy efforts at the UN Biodiversity Convention's meeting in Nairobi, Kenya.
In addition to a number of press releases and publications, the Project followed this initial advocacy work by cosponsoring two seminars on biological crop eradication in Quito, Ecuador and Bogotá, Colombia in October, 2000.
The seminars in South America forged an alliance to stop the use of biological weapons in drug crop eradication between very diverse nonprofit groups working on human rights, indigenous peoples' rights, peace, drug policy, environment, biotechnology, and biological weapons.
The Project's work on treaty compliance is also underway. The Project is seeking a reinforced international consensus against biological weapons.
The Project is raising questions about certain uses of genetic engineering in defensive biological weapons research and is sparking much-needed public debate on the limits of military use of biotechnology and dangers of some types of defensive research conducted in Western countries.
For example, research conducted by the Sunshine Project revealed that the German Army is experimenting with antibiotic resistant tularemia bacteria, a project that has been heavily criticised in the German media. Despite being a defensive project, we consider it to be highly critical as it has obvious offensive applications.
In late September, 2000, the Project's US office moved from Seattle to Austin, Texas. The Sunshine Project has a number of publications and activities planned for 2001, including seminars in Europe, the US, and briefings for intergovernmental meetings.
Please visit our website and consider joining our news listserver to keep in touch.
Director of the US Office of the Sunshine Project
Edward Hammond is Director of the US Office of the Sunshine Project. He was born in San Antonio, Texas and holds two Master's degrees from the University of Texas at Austin. Hammond has worked on biotechnology-related policy since 1993. From 1995-1999, he was Program Officer for the Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI, now the ETC Group). Hammond is a member of the Pugwash Study Group on the Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions. Hammond directs the Sunshine Project in the US and manages its research program on biodefense, incapacitants, and other issues.
PO Box 41987
Austin TX 78704 USA
Jan van Aken is Director of the Sunshine Project Germany. He is native of Hamburg and holds a PhD in cell biology (Hamburg University). A former campaigner for Greenpeace Germany, he has worked for more than fifteen years to analyse the threats of genetic engineering to human relations, health and the environment. van Aken is a member of the Pugwash Study Group on the Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions and is a trained weapons inspector (biological) on the roster of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC).
Arca Foundation: For participation in NGO networking on monitoring of the BWC
Ben & Jerry's Foundation: For collaborations to monitor the US biodefense program
Berghof Stiftung: For research and awareness building about bioweapons in Germany
C. Deans Crystle Foundation: For general support and work on Agent Green
Educational Foundation of America: For work to promote constructive US engagement in the BWC
German Peace Research Foundation (DSF): For an assessment of multilateral biosafety and other treaty processes relevant to the BWC
Hatzfeldt Stiftung: For research into genetic engineering and biological weapons
Heinrich Böll Stiftung: For a seminar on Agent Green in Quito, Ecuador
HKH Foundation: For general support and work on Agent Green and human genomics
JoMiJo Foundation: For general support
Pettus Crowe Foundation: For general support
Ploughshares Fund: For the Bioweapons and Biodefense Freedom of Information Fund (www.cbwtransparency.org)
The Fund for Drug Policy Reform of Tides Foundation: For work to prevent the use of biological agents in drug crop eradication