A “mysterious” fungus that has damaged opium poppy crops in Afghanistan is sparking fears of US biological warfare. Helmand farmers interviewed by BBC Pashto service were convinced that “they” had deliberately destroyed the crops—the pronoun “they” being a euphemism for US secret agents, believed by the farmers to have sprayed the crops with the fungus. The UN drug control office in Afghanistan is conducting an investigation into the outbreak.
In 2000, the Sunshine Project published a report about “dangerous US fungus experiments” aimed at wiping out drug crops. The report warned of the potentially harmful impact of the fungus on biodiversity in targeted drug-producing regions: “The strains of the fungi fusarium oxysporum and pleospora papveracae might infect and kill plants other than coca, poppy and cannabis in ecologically sensitive areas of Asia and the Americas.” (The Guardian, May 17)