Report Calls on the UN Biodiversity Convention to Stop Dangerous US Fungus Experiments 5/12/00

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(The following is an abridged press release from The Sunshine Project. DRCNet's own coverage of this issue can be found at:

http://www.drcnet.org/wol/136.html#fungus
http://www.drcnet.org/wol/105.html#fungusresearch
http://www.drcnet.org/wol/100.html#mycoherbicides
http://www.drcnet.org/wol/077.html#fungi2
http://www.drcnet.org/wol/076.html#fungi)
In a report released on May 2nd, the Sunshine Project, a new international nonprofit dedicated to exposing abuses of biotechnology, has called upon on the upcoming Nairobi meeting of the UN Biodiversity Convention to halt the United States' 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 centers of diversity. The US-backed fungi have already been used experimentally on opium poppy and cannabis in the US and in Central Asia.

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 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.

The Sunshine Project is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing information to light on harmful abuses of biotechnology. For a copy of the report and more information, visit http://www.sunshine-project.org.

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