CIA used LSD to make French lose the loaf
By Henry Samuel in Paris
Thursday March 11 2010
IN 1951, a quiet, picturesque village in southern France was suddenly and mysteriously struck down with mass insanity and hallucinations. At least five people died, dozens were committed to asylums and hundreds afflicted.
For decades it was assumed that the local bread had been unwittingly poisoned with a psychedelic mould. Now an even more extraordinary explanation has emerged, with evidence suggesting the CIA peppered local food with the hallucinogenic drug LSD as part of a mind-control experiment at the height of the Cold War.
The mystery of Le Pain Maudit (The Cursed Bread) still haunts Pont-Saint-Esprit, in the Gard, south-east France. On August 16, 1951, the inhabitants suddenly suffered frightful hallucinations of terrifying beasts and fire.
One man tried to drown himself, screaming that his belly was being eaten by snakes. An 11-year-old tried to strangle his grandmother.
Another man shouted "I am a plane" before jumping out of a second-floor window, breaking his legs. He then got up and carried on for 50 yards.
'Time' magazine wrote: "Delirium rose: patients thrashed wildly on their beds, screaming that red flowers were blossoming from their bodies, that their heads had turned to molten lead."
Eventually, it was determined that a local baker had unwittingly contaminated his flour with ergot, a hallucinogenic mould that infects rye grain.
However, H P Albarelli Jr, an investigative journalist, claims the outbreak resulted from a covert experiment directed by the CIA and the US army's top-secret special ops division at Fort Detrick, Maryland.
Mr Albarelli came across CIA documents while investigating the suspicious suicide of Frank Olson, a biochemist working for special ops who fell from a 13th floor window two years after the Cursed Bread incident.
One of the notes describes a conversation between a CIA agent and a official with Sandoz, a pharmaceutical company that "supplied the CIA and the US army with LSD".
The official allegedly mentioned the "secret of Pont-Saint-Esprit" and explained that it was not "at all" caused by mould but by diethylamide, the D in LSD. (© Daily Telegraph, London)
- Henry Samuel in Paris