Drug War: Agent Green: Mccollum's "Silver Bullet" - In The Head

Author:  Dan Russell  - February 23, 2001

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Editor's note: This is an excerpt from Dan Russell's Drug War: Covert Money, Power and Policy (New York:  2000). This comprehensive, 675 page tome sports 400 photos, a 16 page bibliography, and over 1300 footnotes. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.

Drug War: Agent Green: McCollum's "Silver Bullet" - In the Head

The early summer 1996 aerial spraying of Ultra Glyphosate (Monsanto's "Round-Up") on 45,000 acres of Guaviare coca caused convulsive vomiting and hair loss among the children. The enraged mothers organized the August 1996 march of more than 150,000 campesinos in Guaviare, Putumayo and Caqueta provinces. The Colombian federales diffused the protest with false compromises, then stealthily assassinated the march leaders. Many of the surviving campesinos turned, for the first time, to the guerrillas. The U.S. then insisted that Colombia allow it to switch to the far more poisonous tebuthiuron (Dow's "Spike"). Now, if the US State Department has its way, the ongoing chemical spraying will be followed by the massive, nearly indetectable high altitiude dropping of Agent Green (the mycoherbicide fusarium oxysporum formae specialis [f.sp.] erythroxyli). Agent Green is an extension of the US-engineered 1997 UN Drug Control Program's SCOPE program (Strategy for Coca and Opium Poppy Elimination). [1]

The SCOPE program is, ultimately, a CIA/Defense contractor/World Bank/International Monetary Fund plan to force the corporatization of millions of acres of campesino-held land by physically destroying their only economic mainstay, their agriculture. "Drugs" have no more to do with this war than "communism" had to do with the 1954 war against Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala. That war was about ownership of Guatemala. Arbenz' government was about as communist as Franklin Roosevelt's. This war is about ownership of Colombia, and, for that matter, Burma, Thailand, Peru, Bolivia et al.

But the UNDCP was forced to admit, January, 2000, that Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan have refused to carry out the field testing of the opium poppy mycoherbicide that they had previously approved. Then, on March 24, Peru passed a law banning the use of biological agents in coca eradication. And in Lima, Sept. 7, 2000, the Andean Committee of Environmental Authorities (CAAAM), representing the governments of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela, stated its "rejection of the use of the 'Fusarium oxysporum' fungus as a means of eradicating illegal crops in the Member Countries of the Andean Community." [2] The CAAAM was following the lead of the Colombian Ministry of the Environment, which declared on July 18 that the Colombian Government, "did not accept the proposal put forward by the United Nations International Drug Control Programme to conduct tests using the Fusarium oxysporum because it considered that any agent foreign to the native ecosystems of our country could pose a serious threat to the environment and to human health."

Even Bush/McCollum-led Florida has rejected the mycoherbicide idea, thanks to a Bush-appointee with some real backbone, and its rejection reveals the real purpose of the policy. In 1999, Ag/Bio Con, Inc., a Montana-based USDA-connected company with an inside track to Defense Department financing, proposed using a cannabis-killing strain of Fusarium oxysporum in Florida. The proposal was engineered by James McDonough, Florida's Director of the Office of Drug Control. Jeb Bush brought McDonough to Florida from his position as McCaffrey's Director of Strategy for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Florida's Rep. Bill McCollum engineered the first $23 million for mycoherbicide financing in his defense contractor's dream bill, the $2.3 billion "Western Hemisphere Drug Elimination Act." Virtually all of McCollum's $2.3 billion went for weapons purchases for the vast US Southern Command and for the dope dealing armies of Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, etc. Beamed Bill, "All of the indications are that this [mycoherbicide] has the potential for making a big difference in the drug war.... This could be the silver bullet." [3]

The head of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, David B. Struhs, quashed the maniacal idea, pointing out that it was more like a silver bullet in the head: "Fusarium species are capable of evolving rapidly. Mutagenicity is by far the most disturbing factor in attempting to use a Fusarium species as a bioherbicide. It is difficult, if not impossible to control the spread of Fusarium species. The mutated fungi can cause disease in large numbers of crops, including tomatoes, peppers, flowers, corn and vines and are normally considered a threat to farmers as a pest, rather than as a pesticide…. Fusarium species are more active in warm soils and can stay resident in the soil for years. Their longevity and enhanced activity under Florida conditions are of concern, as this could lead to an increased risk of mutagenicity." [4]

This information was not news to the Department of Defense, and its contractor, Ag/Bio Con. Quite the contrary. Fusarium's spectacularly deadly mutagenicity has been firmly established in biological science for years. Like various other plant pathogens, Fusarium oxysporum has several specialized forms - known as formae specialis (f.sp.) - that infect a variety of hosts causing various diseases. In Hawaii, these include: Fusarium oxysporum f.sp.asparagi (fusarium yellows on asparagus); f.sp.callistephi (wilt on China aster); f.sp.cubense (Panama disease/wilt on banana); f.sp.dianthi (wilt on carnation); f.sp.koae (on koa); f.sp.lycopersici (wilt on tomato); f.sp.melonis (fusarium wilt on muskmelon); f.sp.niveum (fusarium wilt on watermelon); f.sp.pisi (on edible-podded pea); f.sp.tracheiphilum (wilt on Glycine max); and f.sp.zingiberi (fusarium yellows on ginger).

These specialized forms are an indication of the spectacular mutagenicity referred to by Florida's chief environmental officer. Once released, the thing would become a deadly threat to Florida's major industry, as race 2 of Fusarium oxysporum now is to the watermelon industry in Texas and Oklahoma. [5]

US Forest Service: Forest Health Protection, Southern Region: "Mimosa Wilt, caused by Fusarium oxysporium var. perniciosum: Importance. - Mimosa wilt is the most devastating disease of mimosa. In many areas it has almost eliminated ornamental mimosas."[6] Worldwide, Fusarium oxysporum is deadly to chrysanthemum, grape, potato, cotton, vanilla, date, sunflower, coffee, mimosa, avocado, cabbage, celery, squash, soy, tobacco, clover, various melons, eucalyptus, pine trees, sesame, beet, African palm, eggplant, numerous other important cultivars and innumerable wild plants on which wildlife depend.

When the Kenyans tried to do something about the Fusarium oxysporum f.sp.cubense that was devastating their small-scale banana farms, they found 4 different Fusarium oxysporum races and more than more than 20 different "bridging groups." [7] Scientists in Hawaii have reported over 24 fusarium species there. The list of affected Hawaiian plants is about three times longer than the list I cited above and the economic and ecological damage in Hawaii has been severe. [8] Yet our own Department of Defense, under McCaffrey's direction, is proposing intentionally dropping this stuff on small-scale campesinos worldwide. All in the name of a war on "drugs," meaning the traditional sacramental herbs of native peoples. The transparent purpose is corporate, that is, defense-contractor, land theft.

Remember the American Chestnut tree? I bet you don't. At the end of the nineteenth century, the American chestnut was a major component of eastern deciduous forests from Maine to Georgia and west to Illinois, in some places constituting more than 40% of overstory trees. Early in the twentieth century, chestnut blight, a nonindigenous fungal disease from Asia, broke out near New York City and quickly infected almost all American Chestnuts on the continent, driving the species to ecological extinction. American Chestnuts now exist only as scattered small trees that become infected and die as they mature. There is no known cure for the Chestnut fungus Cryphonectria parasitica. That's how dangerous fungal diseases are. And Fusarium oxysporum is far more evolutionarily agile than the unstoppable Chestnut blight. That's what these maniacs are playing with.

In 1994, the USDA-contracted researchers attempted to rig an experimental test of the "species specificity" of fusarium osysporum f.sp.erythroxyli by insisting that it be tested only on North American plants completely unrelated to the South American erythroxylum coca. Lo and behold, much to their own chagrin, they proved that fusarium oxysporum f.sp.erythroxyli was anything but specific to erythroxylum coca. North American meadowfoam (Limnanthes douglasii) and redstem filaree (Erodium cicutarium) succumbed to the fungal attack - confirming, of course, that this stuff is spectacularly dangerous to all agriculture anywhere it is sprayed. [9]

And that, of course, is the real point of its proposed use in the third world. During the early 1990's, two decades after Ag/Bio Con first discovered fusarium oxysporum f.sp.erythroxyli on Coca Cola's Hawaiian coca plants, another fusarium epidemic, known locally as "seca-seca" ["dry-dry"] swept through the coca patches of the upper Huallaga Valley in eastern Peru. Jeremy Bigwood & Sharon Stevenson: "Coincidentally, one of the apparent epicenters of the disease was near the US antinarcotics fire base at Santa Lucia. Peasants in the area complained of their coca patches being sprayed from helicopters. In a debriefing of the US-funded Peruvian National Coordinator for Human Rights ('La Coordinadora') about their 1993 Annual Trip to Peru's Huallaga Valley Jungle Region, 'the delegation was struck, however, by the devastation caused by the fungus plague that is withering coca crops. They were assailed at almost every stop with accounts of US DEA airplanes spreading "fungus pods" over the coca fields . . .'"

"Over the last decade, the disease spread to the Yurimaguas area, the northern limit of Peruvian coca cultivation as well as beyond Pucallpa in the east. During this period, disturbing revelations about its nature were documented by the US State Department through the US embassy in Lima, who were following its progression in their reports to Washington, D.C.. The embassy recorded reports that the Fusarium coca wilt disease was not specific to coca, but killed other crops, too: 'Meanwhile, reportedly 3000 farmers in the Tingo Maria and Leonicio Prado area . . . have had to scratch for other means of earning a living, including panning for gold, when a plant disease, 'seca-seca' which had previously attacked coca plants broke out again in alternate crops planted in former coca beds.'" [10]

In fact, the defense contractors themselves aknowledged fusarium's lack of species specificity by inanely insisting that the "species-specific" strain was "specific" to two completely different varieties of coca, Erythroxylum coca var. coca and Erythroxylum novogranatense var. novogranatense. Their own tests showed that var. novogranatense fared far better under "specific" attack than did var. coca. [11]

The only way to positively identify fusarium disease is through laboratory culturing and diagnosis, and the only known defense is massive antifungal spraying combined with specially engineered resistant strains of commercial food crops - agribiz. By destroying traditional agriculture in southern Colombia (there is evidence this is also happening on the Burma-Thai border with the Akha's staple ginger crop), you destroy the campesinos hold on their land and force them into the cash economy - as sharecroppers on land they no longer own. Given the Prohibition-inflated value of drug crops, many of the landless campesinos will become drug-crop sharecroppers on Army-owned or connected land.

The "anti-drug" fungal spraying is proposed only for rebel-held areas. During the investigation of former Colombian President Samper's financing it was revealed that, while coordinating drug shipments, Cali traffickers, Samper's financiers, racked up a $200,000 phone bill on a number assigned to Brig. Gen. Ismael Trujillo, then head of the Federal Judicial Police, the guy in charge of the U.S. Drug War in Colombia. The Cali money was funneled through Fernando Botero, Samper's 1994 campaign manager and Defense Minister. That is, the Cali cartel was an organic part of the establishment in charge of the Colombian military. Their vast monocrop drug fincas were never sprayed by glyphosate and tebuthiuron, because they weren't in rebel-held areas.

The situation today remains unchanged, as the investigation of Col. Hiett has revealed, and as the dope-dealing army-connected paramilitary leader Carlos Castaño Gil has admitted. Reuters, September 6, 2000: "The head of Colombia's outlawed right-wing paramilitary forces, who has conceded most of his financing comes from the drug trade, said Wednesday that he also gets support from the local and international business community. Carlos Castano, leader of the ruthless United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), spoke of his ties to legitimate businessmen in an open letter to Congress, a day after Defense Minister Luis Fernando Ramirez urged lawmakers to launch a probe into private sources of funding for the paramilitary militias that target leftists and suspected rebel sympathizers across Colombia…. Local and international human rights groups say the AUC, which is responsible for most of the peasant massacres and other rights abuses committed in Colombia, operates with the support of state security forces in an increasingly dirty war with Marxist rebels that has taken more than 35,000 lives since 1990. In a rare television interview in March, Castano said drug trafficking and drug traffickers probably financed 70 percent of his organization's operations."

In direct contravention of innumerable chemical warfare and ecological treaties, intentional ecocide is being proposed here. US State Department documents, signed by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, urge the UNDCP to set up testing for "large-scale implementation" of fusarium on coca in Colombia and to get other countries involved "in order to avoid a perception that this is solely a US government initiative." [12] This, while the USDA officially estimates the Fusarium oxysporum spore survival structures stay active in soil for 40 years. [13] And no test, either by Ag/Bio Con or anyone else, has ever been able to contain the pathogenicity of fusarium - once released, the thing is an uncontrollable mutating monster.

Some strains of Fusarium oxysporum produce the toxic substances fusaric acid, moniliformin , trichothecenes and fusarin C . Trichothecenes is dangerous enough to be listed as a biological weapons agent in the draft Protocol to the UN Convention on Biological and Toxic Weapons.

Fumonisins have been shown to cause a neurological disease, equine leucoencephalomalacia in horses, pulmonary edema in swine, hepatotoxic and nephrotoxic effects in other domestic animals, and carcinogenesis in laboratory animals. In humans, mycotoxins can cause reduced growth rate, decreased resistance to infection, fatty liver syndrome and death. [14]

The influential Edward Hammond of the Sunshine Project15, a pioneer in opposition to this nazi science, quotes an 8/7/2000 editorial by the Managing Editor of Chemical and Engineering News, the magazine of the American Chemical Society, entitled "Agent Orange and F. oxysporum": "There is an unavoidable moral component to scientific research, and development of F. oxysporum as a weapon in the war on drugs or any other war violates it. Scientists should just say no to participating in this research." [16]

In closing, let me quote a couple of horrified plant biologists with long experience, John M. McPartland, D.O., M.S. and David P. West, Ph.D.:

"In the case of pathogens of Cannabis, the non-target host at greatest risk, because of its close phylogenetic relationship to Cannabis, is hops (Humulus lupulus). At least 10 fungal pathogens are known to mutually infect Cannabis and Humulus. The next closest relatives are the Urticaceae (members of the nettle family) and the Moraceae (mulberry family), with which Cannabis shares at least 20 fungal pathogens."

"Genetic engineers have recently been investigating a coca pathogen, Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. erythroxli (Sands et al. 1997, Nelson et al. 1997). F. oxysporum f. sp. erythroxli was selected for coca eradication because it caused natural epidemics in Peru and on the former Coca-cola plantation on Kauai, where "containment of the fungus proved challenging." (Sands et al. 1997) [That's Dr. David C. Sands of Ag/Bio Con scientifically admitting that he has failed to control the spread of Fusarium to the surrounding ecosystem.] Fusarium oxysporum is well known to bioengineers, and previous researchers successfully inserted toxin genes into the species. Nevertheless, Gabriel considered it "unwise" to clone a toxin gene into a necrotrophic pathogen (such as F. oxysporum). He argued that such a pathogen might gain unexpected fitness and radically expand its host range, "a potentially dangerous experiment." Fusarium species can produce a variety of toxic metabolites known as trichothecenes, which gained some notoriety for their reputed use in biological warfare ("yellow rain"). F. oxysporum is known to cause systemic infections in humans." [17]


[1] The Sunshine Project.

[2] Andean Community: Press Room

[3] Scientific American , June 1999; Title VIII of the Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act, P.L. 105-277, contains the Western Hemisphere Drug Elimination Act. This legislation authorizes billions of dollars in funding during fiscal years 1999, 2000, and 2001 for the U.S. Customs Service, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Department of Defense, the Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Department of Agriculture, and the Drug Enforcement Administration to enhance their current drug interdiction programs as well as establish new interdiction and source country programs.

[4] The Sunshine Project

[5] Benny D. Bruton and J.P. Damicone. Fusarium wilt of Watermelon: Impact of Race 2 of Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. niveum on watermelon production in Texas and Oklahoma

[6] US Department of Agriculture: Forest Service, Forest Health Protection, Southern Region

[7] J.N. Kung'u. Ecology, Distribution and Population Structure of Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense in Kenya.

[8] Andrew K. Gonsalves and Stephen A. Ferreira. Fusarium Primer

[9] The Sunshine Project

[10] Jeremy Bigwood and Sharon Stevenson. Fusarium Fungus: Unpublished manuscript

[11] The Sunshine Project

[12] The Narco News Bulletin. Rhetoric of Peace and Acts of War

[13] Andrew K. Gonsalves and Stephen A. Ferreira. Fusarium oxysporum

[14] The Sunshine Project

[15] Edward Hammond. The Sunshine Project

[16] Edward Hammond. USA Admits Possible Link between Biological Weapons and Agent Green

[17] John M. McPartland, D.O., M.S and David P. West, Ph.D. Killing Cannabis with mycoherbicides


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