Thursday, July 13, 2006

Souder pushes for eye-eating fungicide

My old acquaintance from the School of Authentic Journalism, Jeremy Bigwood, is the man on fusarium, the deadly bioherbicide that is currently being pushed for use as a tactic in the failing on war on some drugs by the depraved and probably deranged Mark Souder (R-IN). Souder has built his political power on prohibition and is desperate to prove the war on some drugs can be "won." Jeremy points out the gross inhumanity of Souder's latest pet project so well, I'm just going to quote his short piece liberally.
On April 16, the New York Times ran a full-page ad from contact lens producer Bausch and Lomb, announcing the recall of its “ReNu with MoistureLoc” rewetting solution, and warning the 30 million American wearers of soft contact lenses about Fusarium keratitis. This infection, first detected in Asia, has rapidly spread across the United States. It is caused by a mold-like fungus that can penetrate the cornea of soft contact lens wearers, causing redness and pain that can lead to blindness—requiring a corneal replacement.

That same week, the House of Representatives passed a provision to a bill requiring that the very same fungus be sprayed in “a major drug-producing country,” such as Colombia. The bill’s sponsor was Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind.) and its most vocal supporter was his colleague Dan Burton (R-Ind.), who has been promoting the fungus for almost a decade as key to winning the drug war.

The Colombian government has come out against it. And those entities of the U.S. government that have studied the use of Fusarium for more than 30 years don’t recommend it either: The Office of National Drug Control Policy, also known as the Drug Czar’s office, CIA, DEA, the State Department and the USDA have all concluded that the fungus is unsafe for humans and the environment.

“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,” wrote David Struhs, then secretary of Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection, in a 1999 letter rejecting the use of the fungus against Florida’s outdoor marijuana crop. “It is difficult, if not impossible, to control the spread of Fusarium species.”


The DEA stopped funding Fusarium research in the United States during the early ’90s after it learned that Fusarium infections can be deadly in “immunocompromised” people—not only AIDS patients and those with other illnesses, but also those who are severely malnourished. The University of the Andes in Bogotá has recently reported that 12 percent of Colombian children suffer from chronic malnutrition. Spraying this fungus on a vulnerable population could be perceived as using a biological weapon.

The CIA has been against the use of Fusarium to kill drug crops since at least 2000. At that time, one official told the Times, “I don’t support using a product on a bunch of Colombian peasants that you wouldn’t use against a bunch of rednecks growing marijuana in Kentucky.”
The mutation of the fungus is apparently what is now causing the eye problems in contact lens wearers. The USDA is against its use under any circumstances. The Andean Community of Nations, an organization comprising Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela, banned it within their territories. Yet Souder and his prohibition profiteers want to mandate it's use against innocent and vulnerable Colombian peasants simply in order to make themselves and their idiotic drug war policies appear successful.

Souder's bill has already passed the House. The Senate removed the language when they passed a similar bill but it could be restored in joint committee negotiations. I have to ask what kind of heartless morons would even consider endangering entire populations of innocent people with such a dangerous scheme simply to punish a handful of dirt poor peasants trying to make enough money to feed their families?

Contact your Congressmen and Senators and ask them to kill this proposed genocide before it destroys us all. [hat tip Vig]


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