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EU Parliament Rejects Agent Green for Colombia

EU Parliament Rejects Agent Green for Colombia
News Release: The Sunshine Project

1 February 2001


Citing Human Health and Environmental Dangers,
Parliamentarians Vote 474 -1 to Prevent Introduction of Biological Agents

(Hamburg and Austin, 1 February) - Today the European Parliament
voted overwhelmingly against the introduction of biological agents
into the Drug War. In Resolution B5-0087/2001, which sets out a
stance against militarization in Colombian President Pastrana's "Plan
Colombia", Parliamentarians expressed their conviction that the
European Union:

"Smust take the necessary steps to secure an end to the large-scale
use of chemical herbicides and prevent the introduction of biological
agents such as Fusarium oxysporum, given the dangers of their use to
human health and the environment alike;"

Political support for the decision is strong. The European Union's
top foreign policy official, Council of Foreign Ministers President
Lars Danielsson, said the EU considered Plan Colombia - which calls
for the use of biological agents - a bilateral US-Colombia affair in
which Europe did not wish to become involved. Commissioner Poul
Nielson, speaking on behalf of the European Commission, declared that
he was "completely in agreement" with sponsor Joaquim Miranda of
Portugal, who attacked eradication with biological agents as
dangerous for biodiversity and potentially deepening international
spill over of Colombia's complex internal conflict.

The proponents of biological eradication - the US and its junior
partner the United Nations Drug Program (UNDCP) - have faced fierce
opposition in recent months, forcing them to withdraw immediate plans
to test and deploy biological agents in the Andes. But neither has
renounced the strategy of attacking illicit crops with biological
weapons, and despite accusations of biological warfare, both the US
and UNDCP continue to conduct research and development of
anti-narcotic crop biological agents.

The European Parliament's decision is a blow against these policies
because it rejects not just one biological agent (Fusarium
oxysporum); but the entire approach. Thus, European Parliament
resolution is an important step toward a global ban on the use of
biological weapons against illicit crops called for at a December
meeting in France by an international group of more than eighty
non-profit organizations (see the Sunshine Project website for more
details).

The Resolution is embarrassing for the British government, which is
the only country outside the US that has provided money for UNDCP's
biological agents research. The Drugs and International Crime
Division of the UK Foreign Office is funding tests being conducted by
a facility of the former Soviet Union's offensive biological weapons
program located in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. In recent months, however,
as public scrutiny has increased of this program and the related one
to develop agents to eradicate coca in the Andes, the Foreign Office
has become increasingly tight-lipped on the subject, making ambiguous
public statements about the future of its support for biological
eradication.

Last year the US Congress conditioned aid to Colombia on Bogotá
agreeing to use biological agents. This condition was suspended in a
waiver issued by former US President Clinton, who overrode the US
Congress citing concerns about biological weapons proliferation. But
this policy could be reversed in future appropriations. Shortly
before leaving office, Clinton reiterated the concern about
biological weapons. The new US administration has not made any
public statements on the issue.
------
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ENDS

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