From Couriermail.com.au, December 7, 2011:
The documents also indicate authorities contemplated testing crop-destroying chemical weapons in central Queensland’s Proserpine.
The thinking contrasts with Australian policy today – in 1993 Canberra signed a global ban on the use and development of chemical weapons.
The World War II details emerged on the eve of the 70th anniversary of Japan’s attack of Pearl Harbour, which triggered the US to enter the conflict.
The war ended almost four years later with the US dropping atomic bombs on Japan. It was later revealed the US had contemplated a chemical bombardment on Japanese crops.
Documents declassified by the National Archives of Australia, following requests by The Courier-Mail, refer to Australia receiving information from Allies about crop destruction with chemical weapons. Documents refer to targeting “vegetable gardens” in Japanese-held islands and rice crops.
Minutes, from a September 1948 meeting of Australia’s Chemical and Biological Warfare Subcommittee, record a Lt Col N.L. Carter as saying “from a strategic point of view, crop destruction might not be a satisfactory weapon but tactically it might be worthwhile”.
The committee, in contemplating chemical-warfare research topics, also said: “The problem should be very similar to that which was considered in the latter stages of the war when it was thought that an attack on the Japanese vegetable gardens throughout the islands might well be justified.”
Chemical weapons were ultimately not used. But an attack on crops would have further squeezed Japan, which suffered hunger shortages.
The Australian committee in mid-1948 received a report from UK experts, detailing how the US by July 1945 had built up chemical stocks theoretically “sufficient to destroy one-tenth of the rice crop of Japan”.
But this would have logistically been a “formidable” operation to achieve, the report says.