Could Mycoherbicides Thwart Foreign Drug Production?


Frustrated by the nonstop flow of cocaine and heroin into the U.S., some lawmakers are promoting mycoherbicides, weed killers made from toxic, mold-like fungi that they believe could be used to eliminate illegal drug crops for good, reports the Houston Chronicle. Mycoherbicides had been largely written off by U.S. officials. They were concerned the fungi could mutate to kill legitimate crops and that their use overseas would violate the U.N. Biological Weapons Convention and other treaties.

Congress has required government scientists to carry out a new round of studies into mycoherbicides. “I’m telling you, the war on drugs ain’t working,” said Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN). “And if it ain’t working, you don’t sit around doing the same thing over and over again. Burton, Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE), and other mycoherbide supporters are dismayed over a surge in Afghanistan in the production of opium poppies, used to make heroin, and bumper crops of South American coca, the key ingredient in cocaine. Afghanistan provides 90 percent of the world’s opiates; Colombia is the source of 80 to 90 percent of the global cocaine supply. Mycoherbicides are so controversial that U.S. government scientists have not tested them outside of carefully controlled greenhouses and have not found a nation willing to spray them on drug crops.


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