U.S. Can Forget Testing Coca-Killing Fungus

U.S. Can Forget Testing Coca-Killing Fungus
Posted by FoM on July 16, 2000 at 07:34:30 PT
By Jared Kotler, Associated Press Writer
Source: SF Gate
The Colombian government says it has no intention of testing or even further studying a fungus promoted by the United Nations and the United States as a potential ``silver bullet'' for killing coca plants. In an interview, environment minister Juan Mayr said the U.S. State Department ``told lies'' when it reported last week that Colombia had agreed to field test the fungus before deciding whether to it use against cocaine-producing plants. 
``We will not accept the introduction of any foreign element, which is what they have offered us under the name Fusarium oxysporum,'' Mayr told The Associated Press on Friday, adding that: ``We have told them to forget it.'' Mayr said a team of scientists from the government, Bogota's National University, and several prestigious private institutes examined the plan presented several months ago under U.N. auspices, and rejected it categorically. They warned of possible mutations and adverse affects on people and the environment in the delicate Amazon basin, where most of Colombia's coca is grown. Based on expert opinions, ``I think it makes no sense to permit the entry of an external biological agent that can have an adverse affect on our ecosystems,'' said Mayr, who has the authority to reject the use of any herbicide based on the fungus in Colombia. Mayr said the government would welcome funding for research into alternative biological controls based on ``blights'' or even insects already present in the coca-growing areas. He said there was no evidence that Fusarium oxysporum -- an outbreak of which ravaged coca in Peru in the early 1990s -- exists in the southern states where most of the nearly 300,000 acres of coca are grown. Nor does the government plan to look for it further, Mayr added. Last week, a State Department spokesman said reports that Colombia had agreed to a U.S.-funded testing program were accurate. The New York Times reported on July 6 that the Colombian government had agreed to such a program under U.S. pressure. Washington's leverage here is undoubtedly growing as Colombia prepares to receive the bulk of a $1.3 billion U.S. aid package President Clinton signed on Thursday for stemming an explosion of cocaine production in the South American country. The aid, much of it for military helicopters, would permit increased aerial eradication of coca crops using chemical herbicides already approved by Mayr's ministry. Armed leftist rebels entrenched in the coca regions have impeded fumigation, often firing on crop dusting planes. The rebels and peasant coca farmers contend chemical spraying causes illnesses, and kills food crops as well as coca -- not to mention forcing growers to cut down more virgin forest in order to replant their wilted crops. The development of a safe, nontoxic, Fusarium-based herbicide that kills only the coca would ``obviate these concerns'' argued the spurned U.N. proposal, which was to be funded with a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But according to Mayr, many of the complaints about the approved herbicide -- known as glyphosate -- are highly exaggerated. He said it would be better to keep spraying glyphosate while developing biological alternatives than to introduce a potentially hazardous fungus. Amid complaints from environmentalists, the state of Florida last year ditched a plan to test a strain of Fusarium against marijuana crops. Colombians wonder why the U.S. government is so eager to use it in their country. ``Why apply it, even in a test, on Colombian territory and not in the United States?'' Bogota's leading El Tiempo newspaper said in its editorial on Saturday. ``Is destroying coca a mission to be carried out at any cost, without any considerations?'' Bogota,Colombia (AP) Saturday, July 15, 2000 2000 Associated Press  Related Articles:Yikes! Attack Of The Killer Fungus Is A Moldy Plan Agrees To Test Herbicide On Coca Drugs with Choppers and Poison Fungus Could Be Drug War Weapon Control or Bio Warfare? 
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on July 16, 2000 at 09:49:46 PT
You're Right Budm!
Hi Budm! Welcome to CannabisNews! What you said is so true! I hope we don't talk them into it now. If they offer them more money will they change their minds?Peace, FoM!
THC Today
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Comment #2 posted by Budm on July 16, 2000 at 08:26:12 PT
Im Glad
Hi all, Its good to see taht the Columbians are firmly rooted in sanity, these "silver bullets" have the potential of jumping into the other fauna, and devestating entire eco-systems. Besides Coca to the Indeginous Peoles of The Andes, is a non-debilatating usefull way of life, it helps them via-chewing leaves, agianst fatigue at the oxygen depleted high-alltitudes. And for many familys its a econmoic nessisity, that provides food and shelter money.This is our contrys prolbem, how dare we devestate there way of life??Peace
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Comment #1 posted by MikeEEEEE on July 16, 2000 at 07:47:16 PT
Don't spray a fungus in my backyard drug warriors when you can't do it in yours, ha ha ha!!!Yet another failure, give it up.
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