Amber Vibeto and Margo Knorr
If you haven’t heard about House Bill 1259, you might want sit up, pay attention, adjust your reading glasses, and then call your District Senator. HB 1259 is the single thread preventing North Dakotans from becoming ongoing test subjects in the insidious scientific research called wastewater surveillance.
What is Wastewater Surveillance?
There is a big difference between testing wastewater in order to protect citizens from contamination and surveilling wastewater in order to protect citizens from each other by enforcing lockdowns and other restrictions. The National Wastewater Surveillance System (NWSS) was initiated by the CDC and the North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The data generated by NWSS is being used to understand the extent of COVID-19 infections in communities across the country and give guidance to state and local leaders on implementing public health initiatives such as lockdowns and mask mandates. With the encouragement of the CDC, this data will lead to the targeting of certain populations such as schools or small businesses and could be used as a justification for infringing on civil liberties in the name of safety.
North Dakota is participating in wastewater surveillance across the state, including on the campus of NDSU, which led to coerced clinical testing and quarantining of asymptomatic students. According to the CDC, it is not currently possible to reliably and accurately predict the number of infected individuals in a community based on sewage testing, yet this form of surveillance is being used to inform public policy decisions and has the potential to greatly infringe on the rights of citizens beyond college campuses and in regards to other communicable diseases.
A few months prior to the DEQ implementing wastewater surveillance in North Dakota, the CDC was advocating for the surveillance of communities. Many articles were published detailing the CDC’s plan to partner with private and public sectors to begin collecting wastewater samples. Instructions were given on how often testing should be done and where the collections should be made. Many public works managers and department heads were eager to sign on with the help of state funded research universities and to start surveilling communities for potential disease carriers. Surveillance systems were set up across the nation with the intended goal of assisting governors and mayors in their decisions to implement lockdowns and isolation policies. California was one of the first states to implement wastewater surveillance and it’s clear that residents are getting a front row seat at how wastewater surveillance aids in justifying draconian lockdowns, mask mandates, and restrictions on movement.
Who can we credit for coming up with this form of “scientific” research?
Global organizations funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have played an integral role in developing this form of human population study. In 2003, guidance for wastewater surveillance was published by the World Health Organization, whose second largest financial contributor happens to be the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The countries who implemented this guidance were often poverty-stricken and had unstable governments. Wastewater surveillance was used to track and trace disease back to the carrier communities. Highly-funded research and vaccination campaigns would show up amongst the communities being surveilled year after year. The scientists, funded by a dedicated billionaire, were so determined to eradicate certain diseases that they encouraged volunteers to go door to door in an attempt to vaccinate the children who were suspected of being potential carriers. After 15 + years and repeated vaccinations of children, the efforts to eradicate certain viruses continue to fail. All of these relentless efforts have caused much turmoil and hardship on the research populations. Some of the individuals being used for research became so desperate to protect their children from being included in unwanted vaccinations, individuals resorted to deadly violence on more than one occasion to protect themselves and their children. But it was to no avail. They were no match for the massive funds that were being poured into their country or for the powerful organizations who forced citizens to comply.
A company to keep an eye on: Biobot Analytics has gone public and made recent headlines. They receive substantial donations from American Family Insurance and tech entrepreneurs which warrants a spotlight on their actions and motives. According to a graph posted on Biobot Analytics’ website, approximately 5000 individuals in North Dakota have already been surveilled. North Dakotans were being used for research and were most likely unaware of this company’s efforts to turn their sewer systems into “observatories” of their health.
Why is HB 1259 necessary?
Nearly 80% of North Dakota became a research population without citizens’ knowledge or consent when the North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality in conjunction with NDSU was allotted federally funded Cares Act dollars to start studying human populations in Bismarck, Fargo, Minot, and other towns across North Dakota this past fall. When the lead engineer for the DEQ was asked how the surveillance of COVID-19 began in our state, he stated that the municipalities had “volunteered.” In truth, wastewater surveillance for COVID-19 happened without the disclosing of the purpose and intended outcomes of the research in a public hearing to city residents. There was no formal presentation to most city councils prior to implementation. Often times the city council was never made aware of what was being done. Even though concerns have been raised, the DEQ has not been persuaded to stop using North Dakota municipalities as research populations. HB 1259 seeks to prohibit wastewater surveillance unless there is a public hearing and vote of approval by citizens. It is crucial to consider the ethical implications of testing people without their consent and then using the results against them. Also, it should be noted that if an individual is uncomfortable and no longer wishes to be included in a research study, they have the right to opt out. Wastewater surveillance research strips away the autonomy and rights of individuals by being used for research without their consent.
Until reliability and efficacy of this new public health tool are demonstrated, implementing wastewater screening for COVID-19 to target public health resources, to require testing, to impose restrictions on movement, or to remove restrictions based on an absence of virus in the wastewater is premature at best. Even if reliability and efficacy are established, the legal and moral ramifications must be strongly and thoroughly considered before implementation. In addition, under the banner of COVID-19, our government has become habitually tyrannical. We must recapture an America where government serves, rather than subjugates, its citizens. Kudos to HB 1259 bill sponsors for taking a stand to preserve “consent of the governed”: Representatives Ruby, Becker, Cory, Howe, Kading, Louser, Weisz; Senators Burckhard, Kannianen, and Myrdal. To make your voice heard on this issue, contact the members of the Senate Political Subdivisions Committee today and urge them to render a do pass on HB 1259.