April 16, 2001
Darío González Posso
Adriana Rodríguez Salazar
This essay sums up the debate on biological-weapons projects tied to the 'Plan Colombia'. It brings to mind the negative response regarding the use against the coca shrub of the famous herbicidal fungi Fusarium oxysporum, Erythroxylum variety. It outlines the origins of the so-called "local alternative" ("alternativa criolla") and the revelations and accusations against a research project for the use of 'native biological control agents'. It reveals the inconsistencies to be found in the Ministry of Environment's policies, which propose —through the Instituto Amazónico de Investigaciones Científicas (Sinchi)— the participatory design of a public policy called "Agenda 21 Amazonía Colombiana" while simultaneously putting forward (in the shadows) research projects geared for war. It highlights the veto opposed to these research projects by the Amazonian Peoples' Indigenous Organization (OPIAC).
It recounts how the debate was belatedly accepted by the Ministry of the Environment at the "Workshop Seminar on Environment, Illicit Crops and Alternative Development ", in Paipa on September 2000. Here the Ministry gave in for the first time on its proposal and suggested forming a scientific body to examine the "native" biological agents project. It sums up the different stances in defense of the rights of indigenous peoples upheld by the participants in the National Amazon Workshop of October 2000, carried out as part of the building process of the "Agenda 21 Amazonía colombiana". It mentions how the Sinchi Management critically revised its views thus signaling the second backing down on this project.
It refers to the United Nations International Drug Control Program's (UNCPD) decision to withdraw its support of plans that use biological agents against the coca shrub in Colombia and the Andean Region. It quotes a letter written by the Minister of Environment on January 2001 to the effect that it would "not continue with the analysis of the project" on "native biological agents" to be used against coca crops. It alludes to the European Parliament's Resolution, which opposes chemical fumigation and the use of biological agents against crops used for illicit purposes. It establishes the fact that biological-warfare goals have suffered consecutive setbacks, but that, nonetheless, the dangers persist.
Lastly, it underlines the need to request that the UN Narcotics Commission and the Conference on Biological and Toxin Weapons ban the use of biological agents against marihuana, coca and poppy crops.
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