Microbrios para o Terceiro Mundo...
hanzibra at svn.com.br
Fri Jun 9 00:04:31 EDT 2000
Thank you, Mikal, for the alert. I have spread it here in Brazil to the Green Party and friends in other government agricultural agencies. It is just what we need- a new, genetically manipulated strain of Fusiarium...
----- Original Message -----
From: Mikal Jakubal
Sent: Wednesday, May 31, 2000 4:12 PM
Thought I'd forward this...just in case anyone was having too nice a day. Ghastly, ghastly, ghastly!
<< May 2000
ALARM OVER U.S. FUNGUS EXPERIMENTS ABROAD
US experiments in Southern countries using microbial fungus to
eradicate narcotic crops have raised great concern over the
effects on human health, the environment and legitimate crops.
This microbial fungus use is prohibited in the United States
By Chakravarthi Raghavan
Third World Network Features
Geneva: An international non-profit group has called on
the Conference of Parties (COP) to the UN Convention on
Biodiversity (CBD), meeting in Nairobi on 15-26 May, to act to
halt experiments abroad by the United States to use 'Agent
Green' microbes to kill narcotic crops.
In a briefing paper for delegates to the 5th COP meeting,
the 'Sunshine Project', a non-profit group based in Seattle
and Hamburg, has complained that the US government was
planning the testing and widespread application of microbial
fungus to attack plants producing coca, opium poppy and
This microbial fungus use, the group notes, is prohibited
in the United States itself, while the UN General Assembly in
1998 had specifically turned down proposals for the use of
pathogens to kill narcotic crops.
The microbial pathogens, the Sunshine Project says, pose
risks to human health and to biodiversity, and their use is
being promoted abroad - in Asia and the Amazon regions - by
the United States as part of its war against narcotics. The
pathogens have been tested only for their effectiveness
against 'weeds', and not for safety for human health and the
The NGO group says that the US has begun conducting test
programmes on fungi (Pleospora sp. and others) to kill opium
poppy and marijuana. In the Andes and western Amazon, the US
is planning testing and widespread application of a fungus
that attacks coca - Fusarium oxysporum, f. sp. Exythoroxilum.
These pathogens threaten human health and biodiversity in
the Americas and Asia.
The US Congress, the briefing document says, has recently
appropriated $23 million for development of the pathogen
agents and, in the Americas, is linking the fungal pathogen
plan to the US aid programmes.
These anti-crop fungus programmes have been labelled as
'bio-control' research to eliminate weeds, the NGO says.
'While plants producing narcotics are certainly
undesirable, they are not "weeds" by any logical policy or
regulatory definition. And "bio-control" is a misnomer for
these pathogens. Legitimate bio-controls protect cultivated
crops, but the US pathogens kill them.'
And by appropriating the language of a legitimate branch
of science, biological controls, the US programme has put the
reputation of a growing and promising field of research at
The briefing document points out that in 1989, an expert
group working on law enforcement and drug control issues for
the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs first suggested the use of
biological agents to kill narcotic crops. Though nothing came
of this, the US unilaterally pursued scientific development of
the idea, with limited bilateral cooperation particularly from
former Soviet research institutions in newly independent
Central Asian states.
In 1997, at US prodding, the Vienna-based UN Drug Control
Programme (UNDCP) acted on the 1989 recommendation of experts
and incorporated it into a global plan for eradication of
illicit crops, SCOPE (Strategy for Coca and Opium Poppy
But the UN General Assembly in 1998 rejected the SCOPE
move, and the idea of using narcotic crop pathogens was
eliminated from the multilateral agenda. But the US, and some
in the UNDCP, 'seem to have clung to the idea and are on the
verge of implementing it', says the Sunshine Project.
But since the US unilateral push for the use of these
pathogens risks political exposure, the US Government has been
pushing others to follow its lead. In a 1999 State Department
cable (obtained under the Freedom of Information Act), the US
Secretary of State has exhorted the UNDCP 'to find more
support for fungal eradication, and to solicit funds from
other governments, in order to avoid the perception that this
is solely a US Government initiative'.
But there has been little support from other countries,
the Sunshine Project notes. While the UK provided some small
supplemental funding for US-sponsored experiments with opium
poppy fungus in Central Asia in the mid-1990s, no other donor
country has responded to the US calls for support.
The NGO briefing paper notes that with the exception of
manual and mechanical plant removal, crop eradication
programmes using chemical herbicides have been controversial.
As early as 1988, the UN ECOSOC pointed out that drug
eradication programmes should not use methods harming the
environment or humans.
Some countries like Bolivia, Peru and Thailand have laws
or implemented policies banning chemical eradication because
of the negative impacts of herbicides on the environment,
human health and legitimate crops. Civil society opposition to
such eradication has been intense.
Applied in massive quantities from the air, such chemical
herbicides as glyphosate (RoundUp), tebuthiuron (Spike) and
hexaninone harm humans and biodiversity.
But the US and the UNDCP maintain that herbicides used in
specified ways are 'environmentally safe and non-toxic for
But the US finds even these herbicides not strong enough,
and is promoting fungal eradication to create plant sprays
more lethal and long-lasting than glyphosate.
Recently, Peru passed a law banning the use of biological
agents in coca eradication. The UNDCP admitted in January this
year that Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan have refused to carry
out field-testing of opium poppy myoherbicide. And in a report
for the Colombian Ombudsman for the Environment, leading
Colombian scientists have said the use of such agents in
Colombia represents 'a great danger both for humans as well as
the Colombian environment and biodiversity'.
The Sunshine Project notes that the use of fungal
narcotic control has been halted in Florida, the world's top
producer of cannabis. A private company, Ag/Bio Con, which is
connected to the United States Department of Agriculture,
proposed using a cannabis-killing strain of Fusarium oxysporum
But the head of the Florida department of environment
protection squashed the idea, saying this species was capable
of evolving rapidly, and its mutagenicity is by far the most
disturbing factor in its use as a bio-herbicide - it's
impossible to control the spread of the Fusarium species.
The mutated fungi, it was noted, could cause disease in a
large number of crops - tomatoes, peppers, flowers, corn and
vines - and is normally considered a threat to farmers as a
pest, and not as a pesticide. The Fusarium species is more
active in warm soils and can stay resident in the soil for
years. This longevity and enhanced activity in Florida weather
conditions could lead to an increased risk of mutagenicity.
Despite this assessment, the Sunshine Project charges
that the US is pressing the programme to the point when it is
close to large releases. Field-tests are being conducted in
Central Asia and there is enormous pressure on Colombia to
sign an agreement for testing of the coca-killing fungus F.
The potential target acreage is in excess of one million
hectares, and the US envisions its wide use in Asia and Latin
The US claims that the pathogens are environmentally
safe, are host-specific and don't present any danger to
humans. But these claims are dubious, charges the Sunhine
Biodiversity concerns include the impact of altering
fungi populations on highly fragile ecosystems, the impact on
non-target plant species, on soil ecology and pollinators,
difficulties of control or withdrawal once released, toxicity
problems, lack of clarity about the fungi's 'natural
occurrence' and origin, and the possibility of future
introduction of living modified organism pathogens.
The US pathogen-testing has been done primarily to assess
their effectiveness in killing plants, not for their
environmental or human safety, nor have the pathogens been
proved to be safe to other species. Testing for host
specificity has been very narrow, and has not included close
relatives of target species.
Testing has also disregarded complex and fragile
ecosystems in much of South and South-East Asia and the Andes
and Amazon basins. And in some US testing, the 'host-specific'
fungi have attacked both related and non-related species.
The NGO paper also says that the Agrias (Agrias Claudina)
butterfly, which depends on coca's wild relatives in the
Amazonian rainforests, would be endangered.
The Nairobi meeting of the COP, the NGO briefing paper
suggests, should declare that the development of any pathogen
to deliberately kill any cultivated crop is contrary to the
objectives of the CBD. It should also assess potential impacts
of narcotic plant pathogens on agriculture.
The COP should also convey to the UN Commission on
Narcotic Drugs prior to its March 2001 session the concerns of
the COP over such international eradication programmes for
their effects on biological diversity and rights of indigenous
peoples and local communities. - Third World Network Features
About the writer: Chakravarthi Raghavan is Chief Editor of
SUNS (South-North Development Monitor), a daily bulletin, and
Third World Network's representative in Geneva.
When reproducing this feature, please credit Third World
Network Features and (if applicable) the cooperating magazine
or agency involved in the article, and give the byline. Please
send us cuttings.
Third World Network is also accessible on the World Wide Web.
Please visit our web site at http://www.twnside.org.sg
--- You are currently subscribed to permaculture as: hanzibra at svn.com.br To unsubscribe send a blank email to $subst('Email.Unsub') To subscribe send email to lyris at franklin.oit.unc.edu with message text containing: subscribe permaculture
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the permaculture