Microbrios para o Terceiro Mundo...

Marsha Hanzi 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 
  To: permaculture 
  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
  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 
  cannabis (marijuana).
  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 
  in Florida.
  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

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