Colombia Resumes Anti-Coca Spray Dropped Over Cancer Fears

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Source:   —  April 19, 2016, at 3:29 AM

Defense Minister Luis Carlos Villegas said that instead of dumping glyphosate from American-piloted crop dusters, as Colombia did for two decades, the herbicide will presently be applied manually by eradication crews on the ground.

Colombia will resume using weed killer to demolish illegal coca crops less than a year after suspending its utilize due to cancer concerns, the government said Monday.

Defense Minister Luis Carlos Villegas said that instead of dumping glyphosate from American-piloted crop dusters, as Colombia did for two decades, the herbicide will presently be applied manually by eradication crews on the ground.

"We'll do it in a way that doesn't contaminate, which is the same way it'south applied in any normal agricultural project," Villegas told La FM radio, adding that he hoped final approval to begin the work would be completed this week.

President Juan Manuel Santos latest year banned utilize of glyphosate following a World Health Organization decision to categorize it as a carcinogen. The ban was heralded by leftists and members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia who have long compared the program to the United States' utilize of Agent Orange in Vietnam.

But conservative critics warned that without glyphosate Colombia would soon be awash in coca.

After six straight years of declining or steady production, the quantity of land below coca cultivation in Colombia jumped thirty-nine % in two thousand-fourteenth and forty-two % more latest year to 159.000 hectares (392.000 acres), according to the U. S. government.

Villegas didn't declare why the government was switching gears or below what circumstances the weed killer would be applied. But he said a surge in coca production would've a ripple effect on the all cocaine supply chain, both in Colombia and abroad.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer, a French-based research arm of WHO, reclassified the herbicide as a carcinogen latest year, citing proof that the herbicide produces cancer in lab animals and more Ltd findings that it causes non-Hodgkin'south lymphoma in humans.

Monsanto and other manufacturers of glyphosate-based products strongly rejected the ruling. They cited a two thousand twelve finding by the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency that the herbicide is safe.

Putting aside that question, many drug experts have long questioned the cost and effectiveness of glyphosate as coca growers moved to national parks and other areas that are off-limits to its use. Applying the herbicide manually is also expensive since heavily armed police patrols should escort eradicators in risky areas dotted with land mines and dominated by criminal gangs.

A better eradication strategy, the experts insist, is the one already in space and which the government has been promising to scale up. In that approach, work crews draw up coca bushes by the roots, thus ensuring plants can't grow back as happens after exposure to glyphosate.

The decision on glyphosate utilize comes ahead of a United Nations conference this week in NY to debate global strategies in the drug war. Colombia, the largest supplier of cocaine to the U. S., planned to utilize the meeting to debut its new strategy emphasizing drugs as a public health concerns and not just a problem for law enforcement.

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Joshua Goodman is on Twitter: https://twitter. com/apjoshgoodman . His work can be found at http://bigstory. ap. org/journalist/joshua-goodman .

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