U.S. Grows Killer Fungus To Fight Heroin

  U.S. Grows Killer Fungus To Fight Heroin

Posted by FoM on November 19, 2000 at 09:19:55 PT
By Niles Lathem 
Source: New York Post  

A secret U.S.-funded biological weapon to wipe out the heroin trade is in the final stages of development, raising fears in the scientific community that a monster germ will wreak an "ecological catastrophe." For the past two years, scientists funded by the U.S. and British governments have been developing a killer fungus that they say destroys the opium poppies that produce the raw material for heroin. 
Their base of operations is a lab in a high-security former Soviet biological weapons lab in Uzbekistan called the Uzbekistan Genetics Institute. Now, scientists at the rundown plant are using their lethal expertise not only to isolate the fungus known as Pleospora Papaverecea, but also to figure how to genetically engineer it to make it more aggressive, according to United Nations officials supervising the project. They've also developed a formula in which the fungus spores would be mixed with a talc and silica gel to make it a liquid weapon that could be sprayed from aircraft over poppy fields in central Asia. The idea, says Edward Rosenquist, director of International Operations for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is to create a safe, cheap and efficient "silver bullet" to eradicate drug crops rather than use harmful and expensive chemical herbicides. Lab testing of the new weapon has recently been completed and the Uzbeki group's research soon will be submitted to the larger scientific community for "peer review," said Sandro Tucci, director of the U.N.'s Drug Control Program, which is supervising the project. Tucci told The Post that in field trials the genetically manipulated fungus caused opium poppies to wilt and die but left 130 other species unharmed. But the possible introduction of the genetically altered organism into the environment has created a firestorm. "This is biological warfare. It runs the risk of causing an ecological catastrophe. It is a hideously bad idea," said Ed Hammonds of the Sunshine Project, an Austin, Texas-based public interest group. Many scientists warn that the culture could mutate and attack other plants - and possibly animals and humans. "There are all kinds of ways that the DNA of the organism could spread, mutate and create hybrids, and I think there needs to be a great deal of care put into this before it is even considered," said Dr. Sheldon Krimsky, professor of Urban and Environmental Policy at Tufts. There are also fears that, once sprayed in Afghanistan, for example, terrorist groups could easily gain access to the fungus and use it to create their own organisms for revenge attacks on other crops. Tucci calls such fears unfounded. "The idea that this is some kind of plot from 'Dr. No' that a monster is being created in a laboratory is nonsense. The United Nations does not engage in these kinds of things," he said. The Clinton administration last year won congressional approval to spend $23 million to research "bio-active" materials for the war on drugs. Source: New York Post (NY)Author: Niles LathemPublished: Sunday, November 19, 2000 Copyright: 2000 N.Y.P. Holdings, Inc. Contact: letters Website Related Articles:To Colombians, Drug War Is a Toxic Foe Fungus Could be Tool Against Illegal Drugs May be Used to Fight War on Cocaine

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Comment #15 posted by FoM on November 22, 2000 at 16:53:41 PT
I second the welcome!
I second the welcome FreeMind. I'm sorry I didn't see your post until I saw Freedom Fighters response! We have good people here and I hope you feel comfortable. Peace, FoM!
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Comment #14 posted by freedom fighter on November 22, 2000 at 16:37:46 PT
So happy to have you aboarded!With your FREEMIND, I, the freedom fighter will fight for the rights of common people and plants!You should register your nick so nobody can take your nick!LONG LIVE THE FREEDOM!
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Comment #13 posted by freedom fighter on November 22, 2000 at 16:34:29 PT
Anybody with common sense?
I just do not understand why there are some folks who would want to do that. If I go out to some public land and tried to beat the crap out of a pine tree, and if I get caught by authorites, I would be charge with destruction of a tree.By same token, we hired some folks to kill off living plants.I am willing to bet that those folks dressed up with biosuits know that. Wish I could just gas them out with the same stuff that they are making. 
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Comment #12 posted by spock on November 22, 2000 at 06:56:26 PT:
it won't work because it's not supposed to
it's only camuflage, which should make people think that their government tries to solve the problem with adictive drugs.the whole illegal (or probably "illegal") drug industry earns a lot of money, but that could be it's weakest point.instead of prohibition by laws or scifi crap like killer fungi (i like sci fi, but written by scifi autors not by a government), the government should try to hit the economy of the drug could be done by domestic production of heroin, and distributing it to allready adictive people for free.that would be an ultimative competition, so there would be no more money for the people in the drug business.the problem is that possibly these people are the government:)
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Comment #11 posted by Kanabys on November 21, 2000 at 06:30:05 PT
I have a theory.....
the poppy growers could just nullify the effects by spraying a broad spectrum fungicide on the fields immediately after the fungus is dropped. This should save the majority of the crop.
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Comment #9 posted by TREELO on November 20, 2000 at 13:20:28 PT

No joke

The US has already released the scourge of fusarium into Peru in the mid ninetie. Spectacular success in destroying the coca plantations, as well as potatoes, and any other alternative crop. The locals called the plague "seca seca" ("dry dry") which is the end result for the land.Let's by all means release this into the Amazon. Who needs the rainforest anyway.
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Comment #8 posted by FREEMIND on November 20, 2000 at 12:39:36 PT:


Hello everybody!I've never posted any comments even though i'm an avid reader and fan of, but here i go.This madness will not stop until it ends up in court.With all the current enviromental protection laws, theremust be lawyers out there who could legally stop these morons. Let's hope this happens soon. Think about it,Perus' Fugimori is history (US Drug Warrior), now let'suncover the corruption U.S. policy has created under the guise of 'The war on some drugs`. 
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Comment #7 posted by bcg on November 20, 2000 at 06:18:40 PT:

Why doesn't the WWF or Sierra Club

get involved in this. I mean how PC is it for the most powerful government on Earth to maintain a stated goal of CAUSING no less than 3-5 distinct plant species to become extinct (read - cocaine, cannabis, and the opium poppy - all have been the targets now of these bioengineering projects). I mean you can't build a shed on your OWN property if some government agency fears that some bug or slug that may be endangered may be threatened, but there is no outcry when the U.S. makes moves to exterminate a flower that people worldwide cultivate for garden decoration.  As I was being indoctrinated in government schools in the 80's, I was taught that extinction due to human intervention in the ecosystem was BAD,BAD,BAD! 
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Comment #6 posted by legalizeit on November 19, 2000 at 20:49:42 PT

Just imagine...

... if this stuff actually worked as intended, would we have a happy drug free society, with D.A.R.E. graduates walking around like smiling little zombies, everyone hooked on alcohol & tobacco instead of heroin, and former gang rivals playing tiddlywinks with each other?Far from it!! For one thing, cultivation of the poppies would continue, just in more clandestine places such as wildlife preserves and people's basements.The producers would pass the price for their added difficulty on to dealers and consumers, inflating the price and thereby increasing crime & the lengths addicts will go to to get their heroin.The govt. will never learn. This is an unwinnable war, and introducing chemical or biological weapons will not do anything positive but has the potential of causing untold havoc on our environment.Of course, that never stopped the govt. before... the environment is the first casualty of any war.The people hem and haw about our current election deadlock... but it makes no difference who gets in - as long as the current blindly idiotic policy of prohibition and zero-tolerance is continued, as both candidates indicate will be the case, nothing will change for the better.
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Comment #5 posted by dddd on November 19, 2000 at 17:27:33 PT


"The idea, says Edward Rosenquist, director of International Operations for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is to create asafe, cheap and efficient "silver bullet" to eradicate drug crops rather than use harmful and expensive chemical herbicides." I'm sick of hearing these misguided chemo-terrorist/scientists,and politicians talking about "silver bullets".It's as if they're suggesting that by developing one certain strain of bio mold/fungus,they can selectivly wipe out drugs that come from certain plants......That's about as likely as developing a fungus that we could spray in their faces to make them realize they are idiots..... I believe the term "silver bullet",was originated in tales of vampires.It was supposed to be one of the only ways to kill a vampire.I'd like to see a wooden stake driven through the heart of the drug war. These silver bullet guys,are living in some sort of dimented fairy tale land.....dddd
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Comment #4 posted by max on November 19, 2000 at 17:19:50 PT:

i give up

JUST WHO THE FUCK DO THESE PEOPLE THINK THEY ARE??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????//
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Comment #3 posted by freedom fighter on November 19, 2000 at 16:08:01 PT

I agree that this insanity must stop

We must get lawyers together and sue the pants out of the government. We have done this before with paraquat and the marijuana.
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Comment #2 posted by MikeEEEEE on November 19, 2000 at 12:26:35 PT

Last Act

Thanks Kaptinemo for giving us the US government track record on human rights, it's really worth taking a look at.This is yet another last act in a war that cannot be won. Of course if this biological weapon does a lot more than kill it's intended will be hell to pay for society. But in a world that's used to making problems it might seem the NORM. Normal? Maybe not this time! If anything, it shows you the mind of the prohibitionist -- how far they will far they will destroy something, maybe themselves.
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Comment #1 posted by kaptinemo on November 19, 2000 at 10:35:47 PT:

More rank insanity

Many years ago in ANALOG Sci-Fi magazine was a story about EXACTLY this kind of thing: "The Swan Song of Dame Horse". The idea was that a kind of bioweapon, called a paravirion, would be used to render the poppy plant incapable of producing the alkaloids which comprise opium.Of course, the government in the story could be trusted to maintain a supply of uninfected poppies...and subcontract a corporation to do the farming of them. But the author of the story was afraid to take it one step further; what if the government used it's monopoly on analgesia as a form of litmus test? Don't like what the government does? Then you don't get the anesthetics and painkillers you need.After all, you can always trust the government, right? A government that does things like The Tuskegee Syphilis Study, where Black men who had syphilis were intentionally left untreated, to follow the course of the disease through their lifetimes...and seeing how far it would spread through the Black population? A government that does things like force draftees to march through areas recently irradiated by open-air nuke blasts, thereby ensuring that thousands of them die horribly of radiation induced cancers? A government that does things like knowingly expose its own soldiers to the carcinogenic effects of substances like Agent Orange and nerve agent pills that don't work? A government that doses unwitting American civilians with LSD, and sprays cities with biowar test baccilli?Yeah, you can trust this government. Suuuure you can. Given some of the documented instances of governmental perfidy I just listed, would you trust it to release a bioweapon that has the potential to become mutagenic and attack food crops?I sincerely hope that all you doctors and researchers out there are able to see the dangers in this matter. This insanity must stop before we're all left starving because of governmental hubris. 
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