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Asunto:Fw: Drug War biotech fungus threatens biodiversity!
Fecha:Jueves, 4 de Mayo, 2000  15:24:38 (-0400)
Autor:lorenna miliani <lmillenium>

----- Original Message ----- 
From: Patrick Reinsborough <rags@...>
To: <rags-rap@...>
Sent: Thursday, May 04, 2000 2:38 PM
Subject: Drug War biotech fungus threatens biodiversity!

> The Sunshine Project
> Press Release
> 2 May 2000
>     ***   Report Calls on the UN Biodiversity Convention   ***
>     ***      to Stop Dangerous US Fungus Experiments       ***
> (Hamburg & Seattle, 2 May 00)  In a detailed report released today,
> the Sunshine Project, a new international non-profit dedicated to
> exposing abuses of biotechnology, calls on the upcoming Nairobi
> meeting of the UN Biodiversity Convention to halt the USA's dangerous
> experiments with fungi designed to kill narcotic crops.
> Intended to kill opium poppy, coca, and cannabis plants, the microbes
> present risks to human health and biodiversity. There is imminent
> danger that a highly infectious fungus will be deliberately released
> in Andean and Amazonian centres of diversity. The US-backed fungi
> have already been used experimentally on opium poppy and cannabis in
> the US and in Central Asia.
> Fungus targets include hundreds of thousands of cultivated hectares
> in narcotic crop-producing countries in South, Southeast, and Central
> Asia, along with Mexico, Central, and South American countries.
> Thirty years after the heavy use of toxic herbicides (Agent Orange)
> in the Vietnam War, the USA is planning the use of a biological agent
> ("Agent Green") in the Drug War.
> The strains of the fungi Fusarium oxysporum and Pleospora papveracae
> might infect and kill plants other than coca, poppy, and cannabis in
> ecologically sensitive areas of Asia and the Americas.
> US Department of Agriculture researchers have never tested the host
> range of Agent Green on plant species native to target countries,
> including Colombia, which is currently number one on the USA's list
> of places to use the fungi. Only a limited range of commercial crops
> were tested, which is little indication of how the fungi will behave
> in the varied and poorly-understood real-world ecologies where they
> might be used.
> "The USA is playing roulette with irreplaceable biological diversity"
> says Susana Pimiento Chamorro, a Colombian lawyer with the Sunshine
> Project. "In Colombia, four close relatives of coca are already
> listed as endangered. Agent Green might be the last step to their
> extinction."
> It is well known that some strains of F. oxysporum can infect many
> different plants, even distantly related species. To avoid disturbing
> delicate ecosystems in the Amazon, rural Southeast Asia, and the
> Andes, the fungi must not be released.
> One of the most highly prized butterflies in the world, the Agrias
> (Agrias sp.) depends on coca's wild relatives in Amazonian
> rainforest.  Plants in the coca genus are the butterfly's host plant,
> the only place where young larvae feed and mature.  A beautiful fast
> flyer listed as endangered in Brazil, one of Agrias' centres of
> speciation is the Upper Putumayo River region, precisely where the US
> intends to apply the heaviest doses of the coca-killing fungus.  If
> the fungus attacks wild coca relatives, it will ultimately hurt the
> Agrias butterfly.
> Even more disturbing is the fact that strains of Fusarium oxysporum
> are highly toxic to animals and humans. Birds feeding on plant seeds
> are endangered, and consumption of the coca leaves - which is legal
> in Peru and Bolivia - might pose a health threat. "Fusaria can
> produce mycotoxins that are deadly enough to be considered weapons of
> war and are listed as biological agents in the draft Protocol to the
> Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention, " says Sunshine Project
> biologist Dr. Jan Van Aken, "US researchers have not tested Agent
> Green's production of these deadly mycotoxins."
> Once released into the environment, the deadly fungus cannot be
> recalled. Indeed, the coca fungus appears to have escaped scientists'
> grasp when it jumped into control plots during field tests in Hawaii.
> The fungus has been clearly rejected in the USA, the world's number
> one producer of illicit cannabis. Last year, the Florida
> Environmental Protection Agency emphatically opposed and halted a
> proposal to use Fusaria.  According to the Agency's director: "It is
> difficult, if not impossible to control the spread of Fusarium
> species. The mutated fungi can cause disease in large number of
> cropsS Fusarium species are more active in warm soils and can stay
> resident in the soil for years."
> Senior US officials have failed to obtain the financial backing of
> other governments for the plan.  Except for modest support from the
> UK for the poppy killer, no other donor country has financially
> backed the idea. But this has not stopped the USA's drug warriors
> from pressuring Asian and South American countries.  Through the
> offices of the UN Drug Control Programme (UNDCP), pressure is being
> put on Colombia especially, which is being asked to sign a field
> testing contract.  Ironically, it was under Colombian leadership that
> the recent Biosafety Protocol negotiations were successfully
> concluded, and Colombia's Environment Minister is now President of
> the high-level UN Commission on Sustainable Development.
> According to the Sunshine Project's Edward Hammond, "An obvious and
> flagrant flaw in the fungal eradication plan is that microbes pay no
> attention to passport and visa requirements.  The fungus can spread
> without regard to political borders, potentially attacking legal
> crops and countries that do not agree to its use."
> There are many potential victims.  Canadian industrial hemp growers
> have expressed concern about US plans.  Fungus applications in coca
> growing areas in southern Colombia, for example, might lead to
> infections in Ecuador, Brazil, or Peru (a legal coca producer).  Use
> in Central and South Asia, for example Afghanistan, Pakistan, or
> Turkmenistan, could lead to losses for bordering India which, under a
> strict licensing system, produces about half the world's legal
> pharmaceutical opiates.  In Southeast Asia, a variety of disastrous
> scenarios can be envisioned, where opium poppy areas for example in
> Burma border on Laos, Thailand and China, which produces opiates for
> domestic pharmaceutical use.
> If developing country production of legal pharmaceutical opiates is
> damaged by fungus spread, industrialized producers like Australia -
> which has already planted  extra-potent genetically engineered opium
> poppy - could increase market share.
> The rights of indigenous people who cultivate the target crops for
> traditional, non-drug uses are also endangered.  In South Asia,
> poppies are used in traditional medicine and plant material is used
> as fodder.  Coca has been used for over a millennium in traditional
> medicine from Colombia to Argentina.  Under the Biodiversity
> Convention indigenous peoples are afforded rights to their
> biodiversity - including medicinal plants. Indigenous people who live
> close to where fungus is applied may become innocent Drug War victims.
> The United States says that the fungus varieties it wants to use in
> developing countries are not genetically-engineered.  But its has
> created genetically-modified strains in the laboratory. US scientists
> have also cloned virulent genes from related fungi (Fusarium strains
> that attack potatoes) with the possible intent of increasing the kill
> rate of anti-drug fungi through biotechnology.  A consequence of
> permitting testing and use of the current fungi will be future
> pressure for countries to allow "enhanced" Living modified organisms
> (LMOs) fungi.
> Governments have a legitimate need to control narcotic crops; but
> doing so through the use of "Agent Green" microbes is profoundly
> misguided and sets an alarming precedent.  If governments are idle
> while microbial agents are developed to attack narcotic crops, how
> will they protect biodiversity if microbes are developed to kill
> other unpopular and regulated crops, like tobacco, kava, betel nut
> palm, peyote, ayahuasca, or hops?
> The Sunshine Project, which sent its report to 500 government
> delegates from 100 countries, is suggesting several options for
> government action during the May 15-26 Conference of the Parties to
> the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Nairobi. Delegates
> should adopt a resolution calling for a halt of the US program and
> condemning the of use of any microbe for the purpose of eradicating
> cultivated crops.  Such a resolution is not a statement on drug
> policy; but instead a reiteration of fundamental objectives of the
> Convention.  The CBD cannot remain quiet while agents are developed
> by a non-party to deliberately obliterate biodiversity, especially
> plants with legitimate medicinal and traditional uses.
> The CBD may also consider studying the fungus under its Agriculture
> Program, because of the fungi's impacts on pollinators and soil
> diversity - both specific responsibilities of the Convention.
> Governments may also request the CBD Executive Secretary to urgently
> convey the CBD's views to the United National Drug Control Programme
> (UNDCP), which has been - sometimes reluctantly - helping
> implementation of the US program.
> About the Sunshine Project
> The Sunshine Project is an international non-profit organization
> dedicated to bringing information to light on harmful abuses of
> biotechnology.  The Project has expert staff with training in law,
> policy, and biology with lengthy experience on policy issues.  The
> Project has offices in Hamburg, Germany and Seattle, USA.  For more
> information, visit our website ( or
> contact us by telephone or e-mail.
> A copy of the Sunshine Project's report on Agent Green is available
> at our website or on request (
> European and Science Media
> Dr. Jan Van Aken
> Hamburg, Germany
> Tel: +49 40 431 88-001
> The Americas and Asia, Political Media
> Susana Pimiento or Edward Hammond
> Seattle, USA
> Tel: +1 206 633 3718
> Mark Ritchie, President
> Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
> 2105 First Ave. South
> Minneapolis, Minnesota 55404  USA
> 612-870-3400 (phone) 612-870-4846 (fax)
> cell phone 612-385-7921
> mritchie@...
> ___________________________________________________________
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