The Financial Times breathlessly reports that Columbian drug dealers have secretly worked with foreign scientists to develop "super" coca plants through genetic modification. They are supposedly hardier, taller, herbicide resistant, more potent, and yield 8 times as much cocaine.
Toxicologists dismiss these claims, saying that the plants are simply the products of extra fertilizer.
I want some of that for my garden!!
Tue Dec 7,12:25 PM ET
BOGOTA, Colombia (Reuters) –
Giant coca plants said to
resist herbicides and yield eight times more cocaine may be due
to extra fertilizer, not a drug cartel’s genetic modification
program, a scientist said on Tuesday.
A Colombian police intelligence dossier quoted in the
Financial Times said smugglers apparently received help from
foreign scientists to develop a herbicide-resistant tree that
yields eight times more cocaine than normal shrubs.But a toxicologist who studied the plants for the police
said he knew of no evidence that showed whether the plants were
genetically modified or merely grew big because they received
an unusually large amount of fertilizer.
"Up to now there is no scientific evidence, at least in our
country, which shows this is the consequence of genetic
manipulation," said toxicologist Camilo Uribe.
"They could simply be the result of an excess of
fertilizer," he said.
A few isolated giant plants had been found in areas
including Colombia’s Sierra Nevada and Macarena mountains, he
The United States has provided more than $3 billion of
mainly military aid to back a crop spraying program that the
Colombian government says has cut the country’s coca-growing
area by almost two-thirds.
Washington dismissed media reports of genetically modified
coca in August.
"We regularly hear rumors that narcotraffickers are working
to create a transgenic form of coca, but there is no scientific
proof that they have undertaken such research," Phyllis Powers,
Director of the Narcotics Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy
in Bogota, said at the time.