Mycoherbicides

Drug Policy Question of the Week – 9-18-11

As answered by Mary Jane Borden, Editor of Drug War Facts for the Drug Truth Network on 9-18-11. http://www.drugtruth.net/cms/node/3552

Question of the Week: What are mycoherbicides?

According to the 2011 Global Commission on Drug Policies report,

“Biological methods of eradication, known as mycoherbicides, have been researched for coca and opium poppy …”

A 2007 Drug Policy Alliance report overviewed two kinds of mycoherbicides, stating,

“One of these is Fusarium oxysporum and the other is Pleospora papaveracea. Both are toxic molds that attack their targets through the secretion of cell-dissolving chemicals called mycotoxins,”

According to the Sunshine Project mycotoxins can

“have serious impact on human and animal health.”

The Project defines Fusarium oxysporum as a,

well-known plant pathogen causing damage and large losses in food and industrial crops worldwide. Researchers of the US Department of Agriculture have developed highly virulent strains that attack cannabis and coca plants, the source of cocaine.”

The Sunshine Project defines Pleospora papaveracea as,

“a fungal pathogen that attacks opium poppy. Candidate strains for use in crop eradication were … part of the [former] Soviet Union’s offensive biological weapons program.”

A United Nations Special Rapporteur raised concerns about the use of mycoherbacides, citing Colombia’s Office of the Ombudsman, which is,

“gathering information on the serious risks to life, human health and the environment that could result from experimentation with … the Fusarium oxysporum fungus in the open in the Colombian Amazon, one of the richest habitats in terms of biodiversity in the world.”

The Drug Policy Alliance echoed these concerns, noting that,

“While mycoherbicides contain chemical toxins, they are actually covered under the [United Nations] Biological Weapons Convention …. Given that mycoherbicides are biological agents it has been argued that their use, especially in foreign countries, would be illegal under [this United Nations treaty].”

These facts and others like them can be found on the Mycoherbacides subchapter of the Environment Chapter of Drug War Facts at http://www.drugwarfacts.org.