Pubdate: Sat, 01 Apr 2000
Source: New Scientist (UK)
Copyright: New Scientist, RBI Limited 2000
Contact:  Reed Business Information Limited, 151 Wardour St, London W1V 4BN, 
Fax: +44-20-7331 2777
Page: 52
Author: Tom O'Connell


Drug prohibition, a global policy based on pseudoscience and wishful
thinking, has an unbroken record of futility. Pursuing it has also
become an irresponsible bureaucratic goal, especially in the US.

Kurt Kleiner's account of US  attempts to deploy a  "bioweapon"
against the coca bush (11 March, p 5) provides a good example. It
suggests how careless implementation of "anti-drug" policy can injure
the environment. The fungus they propose using has an incompletely
known avidity for flora besides the coca bush. Kleiner's carefully
neutral article neglects another, equally important facet of drug war
futility. Even if the wildest  dreams of government plant pathologists
were to be realised---coca precisely nudged into extinction without
damage to other plants---the most predictable result would simply be a
huge boost for the already robust black market in methamphetamine,
cocaine's substitute of choice, which, when synthesised by criminals,
is an environmental nightmare in its own right.

Tom O'Connell
San Mateo, California
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