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U.S. Biowarfare against the Colombian People
7 July 2000
A portion of the 1.3 billion dollars allotted to the Colombian Military in the recent US "Plan Colombia" package is set aside to facilitate the large scale distribution of a toxic fungus (Fusarium oxsporum, EN-4 strain) over coca-producing regions. "The U.S. plans to spread this toxic fungus are only part of the Plan Colombia, 90% of which is military aid and includes 18 Blackhawk and 42 Huey II helicopters. The US had to enact Plan Colombia, heightening the war against the impoverished Colombian people, in order to maintain its imperialist domination of the region. The spraying of the Fusarium fungus as a Biological Warfare agent is just another example of US escalation of the Colombian civil war," stated Andy McInerney, a Colombia expert at the International Action Center.
The US Government’s imperial alibi for use of the toxic fungus is the “War on Drugs,” but numerous Colombian scientists are still opposed to the plan. Eduardo Posada, head of the Colombian Center For International Physics, wrote a letter of opposition to the Colombian Minister of the Environment stating that, “The mortality rate for people infected by Fusarium is 76 percent.” Posada lists the scientific literature indicating that fusarium toxins are “highly toxic” to animals and humans.
The application of the fungus in Colombia will explode the internal refugee problem. People fleeing from the areas rendered unlivable by the EN-4 application will certainly be malnourished and potential victims for infection by the fungus, which has been documented in medical literature to kill patients with suppressed immune systems. Jeremy Bigwood, an ethnobotanist, stated at the 13th International Conference on Drug Policy Reform that, “To then apply a myoherbicide from the air that has been associated with a 76% 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 mycoherbicide, or fungal plant-killer, while working for the Department of Agriculture, continue to maintain that the fungus is not harmful to humans, animals, or plants, other than the intended target. Sands however can hardly be counted as nonbiased as vice president of Ag/Bio Con Inc., the corporation that owns the EN-4 strain and the plans for the deployment apparatus.
The US-directed coca eradication crusade of the past decade has failed to stop coca growing, but has destroyed farms and sickened peasants. Despite the massive effort of the Colombian National Police to spray coca fields from the air with glyphosate (Roundup as marketed by Monsanto), tebuthiuron (Spike 20 as marketed by Dow Agro) and other powerful chemical herbicides, coca production in Colombia has expanded. There have been reports that Roundup has sickened children and killed food crops, but the effects of Roundup do not compare to the threat posed by the toxic fungus. Even Luis Parra, a herbicide expert monitoring the chemical spraying to eradicate coca, is opposed to the use of Fusarium. He says, “It is very different to apply a chemical herbicide (such as Roundup) that has known predictable and undeniable risk, than to apply a microbe (such as a mycoherbicide) where the risks are unknown.”
The problem of drug trafficking was recently addressed at a June 29-30th Conference of Illicit Drug Crops and Environment, held as part of talks between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia- People’s Army (FARC-EP) and the Colombian Government. Representatives of 21 nations heard testimony of peasants from coca-producing regions about the devastating effects of fumigation on their lives. The FARC presented the government with a five year test plan to stop coca growing completely in one region of Colombia through government aid that would allow farmers to plant alternative crops. The government rejected the plan completely. The U.S. refused even to attend the conference. “The Solution is not fumigation. Money is needed for social investment in order to begin plans to replace cocca, poppy and marijuana with healthy products”, said Raul Reyes, a spokesman for the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia).
“We are organizing against US intervention in Colombia and in support of the Colombian people’s struggle for liberation,” explained Sara Flounders, co-director of the International Action Center and leading activist against US use of depleted uranium weapons.
Stop U.S. intervention in Colombia!
International Action Centre, http://www.iacenter.org