Magazine article New Internationalist

Fumigate with Fungus: New Chemicals Will Not Stop Narcotic Crops [US to Distribute Toxic Fungus over Coca-Producing Regions in Colombia]

Magazine article New Internationalist

Fumigate with Fungus: New Chemicals Will Not Stop Narcotic Crops [US to Distribute Toxic Fungus over Coca-Producing Regions in Colombia]

Article excerpt

The US will distribute a toxic fungus over coca-producing regions in Colombia. As part of the 'war on drugs', large areas have already been sprayed with herbicides intended to destroy coca crops. Now the fungus Fusarium oxsporum EN-4 strain is to be used -- causing alarm among scientists and health experts.

Eduardo Posada, head of the Colombian Center For International Physics, says in a letter of opposition to the Colombian Minister of the Environment: 'The mortality rate for people infected by Fusarium is 76 per cent.' Jeremy Bigwood, an ethnobotanist, adds: 'To apply a myoherbicide (such as Fusarium) from the air that has been associated with a 76-per-cent kill rate in hospitalized human patients is tantamount to biological warfare.'

The US Government and Dr David Sands, who developed the EN-4 strain as a fungal plant-killer, continue to maintain that the fungus is not harmful to humans, animals or plants other than the intended target. But Sands can hardly be counted as unbiased: he is Vice-president of Ag/Bio Con Inc, the corporation that owns the EN-4 strain. Even Luis Parra, a herbicide expert monitoring the chemical spraying of coca fields, is opposed to the use of Fusarium: 'It is very different to apply a chemical herbicide (such as Roundup) that has a known, predictable and undeniable risk, than to apply Fusarium where the risks are unknown. …

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