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U.S., U.K. Plan Biological Warfare in Opium-Producing Nations

According to the Sunday Times, Britain's largest Sunday newspaper, a joint scientific effort is underway in Uzbekistan which has developed a mutant fungus which attacks opium poppies, signaling the beginning of a campaign of biological warfare next year. The project, which involves both British and American intelligence agencies, is being carried out at Uzbekistan's state genetics institute, which was formerly used to develop and manufacture germ agents for the destruction of food crops of Soviet enemies. The Times reports that some of the 30 researchers who are working on the project are veterans of secret Soviet biological weapons programs.

The mutated fungus, a strain of a tomato-eating variety called Fusarium Oxysporum, is said to be advantageous over chemical herbicides because it is self-replicating, and is transferred via airborne spores from dying plants. According to the Sunday Times, the deal with the government of Uzbekistan was brokered by senior staff of the United Nations Drug Control Program (UNDCP), but some U.N. officials are concerned that use of the fungus in a country like Afghanistan (where the majority of British heroin originates) will open the West to charges from Islamic countries of waging biological warfare. Such charges could result in a strengthening of ties between fundamentalist and moderate Islamic states.

Fusarium is well-known in the U.S. where farmers in Florida and Georgia have had crops destroyed by a virulent mutation called "Race 3", which has proven resistant to even the strongest fungicides. In other parts of the world, Fusarium fungi have been responsible for the destruction of watermelons, chickpeas, basil, bananas, and numerous other crops. Any of the fungi's variations is capable of lying dormant in soil for years waiting for a host plant.

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