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Colombia Stops Use of Deadly Herbicide for Coca Eradication

The nation of Colombia has decided to stop allowing the use of the herbicide Glyphosate for coca eradication. The New York Times reported on May 14, 2015 that:


"The government of Colombia on Thursday night rejected a major tool in the American­-backed anti-drug campaign — ordering a halt to the aerial spraying of the country’s vast illegal plantings of coca, the crop used to make cocaine, citing concerns that the spray causes cancer."

The World Health Organization raised fresh concerns over Glyphosate and cancer risk in March 2015. Scientific American reported on March 25, 2015:


"The cancer-research arm of the World Health Organization last week announced that glyphosate, the world’s most widely used herbicide, is probably carcinogenic to humans. But the assessment, by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in Lyon, France, has been followed by an immediate backlash from industry groups.

"On March 23, Robb Fraley, chief technology officer at the agrochemical company Monsanto in St Louis, Missouri, which sells much of the world’s glyphosate, accused the IARC of “cherry picking” data. “We are outraged with this assessment,” he said in a statement. Nature explains the controversy.

"What does the IARC report say?
"The IARC regularly reviews the carcinogenicity of industrial chemicals, foodstuffs and even jobs. On March 20, a panel of international experts convened by the agency reported the findings of a review of five agricultural chemicals in a class known as organophosphates. A summary of the study was published in The Lancet Oncology.

"Two of the pesticides — tetrachlorvinphos and parathion — were rated as “possibly carcinogenic to humans”, or category 2B. Three — malathion, diazinon and glyphosate — were rated as “probably carcinogenic to humans”, labelled category 2A."

At the time of Colombia's announcement, the US government had made an early release of its estimate of land in Colombia devoted to coca production, showing a dramatic increase. According to that May 2015 New York Times article:


"Just last week, American officials warned that the amount of land used to grow coca in Colombia grew by 39 percent last year as aerial spraying to kill or stunt the crop, already a contentious issue here, declined."

Noted drug policy analyst and Colombia expert Sanho Tree however, in an interview with Drug War Facts editor Doug McVay recorded for radio station KBOO-fm (Portland, OR) on May 5, 2015, speculated that the government's estimate -- which had been released surprisingly early in the year -- was a high-end guess designed specifically to pressure the Colombian government into maintaining the program.