Sticky Situation

Sticky Situation
Posted by FoM on July 28, 2001 at 09:22:26 PT
By Solomon Hughes
Source: In These Times
British chemical company ICI has pulled out of Plan Colombia's controversial fumigation campaign. The firm was supplying ingredients for toxic chemicals used in the U.S.-funded aerial spraying of coca-growing regions, but abandoned the scheme amid health concerns. Local hospitals in the Putumayo region, where the coca fumigation is taking place, have reported increases in skin rashes, diarrhea and stomach aches (see "Death Falls from the Sky," April 30). 
ICI was providing the Colombian company Cosmo Agro with gluey soap-like substances that help herbicides stick to plants. The Colombian government classes the chemicals made from ICI's ingredients as toxic. ICI's own materials describe them as "irritants" and warns against inhalation. U.S. and Colombian authorities have played fast and loose about the specific chemicals used in the fumigation scheme. In January, the State Department claimed "the only chemical currently used for aerial eradication is glyphosate." The U.S. Embassy in Bogota issues the same claim. Glyphosate, made by Monsanto, is commonly known as Roundup. However, the chemicals used are actually a toxic brew of Roundup Ultra mixed with Cosmo Agro's product Cosmo-Flux, a compound that includes ICI chemicals. The combined chemicals have not been tested for safe use in crop-dusting by the Environmental Protection Agency or the Colombian Ministry of Health. ICI stated they were unaware that their chemicals were being sprayed from airplanes in Colombia and claimed no knowledge of Cosmo Agro. ICI suggested that there "may be some confusion" with an anti-fungal they sell in Colombia that is used on banana crops. However, after an investigation for London's Observer, this author presented ICI with documents proving the use of their chemicals in the coca fumigation campaign. The documents were obtained from Cosmo Agro by Elsa Nivía of the Pesticides Action Network as part of her research into the safety of the fumigation program. Following an in-house investigation, in late June the company confirmed that "Cosmo-Flux has been used as an additive to reduce the amount of active ingredient used in spraying coca plants and to prevent undesirable spray drift. However in light of concern about spraying coca plantations, Cosmo Agro has committed not to sell Cosmo-Flux for this application." ICI was disparaging about the use of their chemicals in the fumigation campaign, saying "it doesn't make any sense to us." ICI spokesman John Edgar claimed "it's the wrong material" for coca eradication, and using it "seems illogical." Edgar further stated that "Monsanto wouldn't be very happy" about mixing the chemicals with Roundup as "it doesn't square." He added, "Somewhere along the line something has gone wrong." The State Department refused to answer questions about the spraying and referred In These Times to the U.S. embassies in London and Bogota, where officials were unavailable for comment as the magazine went to press. The confusion about the chemicals used in the fumigation campaign, the curious mix used, and the lack of testing suggests that the crop-dusting procedure is unorganized, even chaotic. ICI's removal of its chemicals from the spraying is a particular blow to Plan Colombia's reputation, especially as the firm has supported military-style fumigations in the past. (ICI supplied chemicals used to defoliate in present-day Malaysia during the "Malayan emergency," a British colonial "police action" of the '50s and a forerunner of the American use of Agent Orange in Vietnam.) However, ICI is apparently unwilling to tie its corporate reputation to Plan Colombia. ICI's action is a vindication of Nivía, who has been critical of the use of Cosmo-Flux in the fumigation. "Toxicological studies do not exist on the effects of the mixture with herbicides," she says. "The inclusion of these two additives was decided in an arbitrary way." It seems that ICI finally came to the same conclusion as the opponents of Plan Colombia. Solomon Hughes writes for the British muckraking magazine Private Eye. His work also has appeared in the Guardian, The Ecologist and Red Pepper, among other publications.Note: British Chemical Company abandons Plan Colombia.Death Falls From The Sky - In These Times In These Times Magazine (US)Author: Solomon Hughes Published: August 20, 2001Copyright: 2001 In These TimesContact: itt inthesetimes.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:Colombia Drug War News Court Orders Aerial Eradication Suspended Pulls Out of Cocaine War Articles - Glyphosate 
Home Comment Email Register Recent Comments Help

Comment #3 posted by mayan on July 28, 2001 at 18:36:07 PT
"The combined chemicals have not been tested for safe use in crop dusting by the EPA or the Columbian Ministry of Health."Let alone human dusting & river dusting! In other words nobody knows what in the hell we are spraying on these people & their food & water!AMERICANS!!! GET OFF YOUR ASS & STAND UP FOR ONCE!!!HOW CAN WE LET THIS HAPPEN?
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #2 posted by freedom fighter on July 28, 2001 at 14:50:57 PT
What does the public know?
Average Joe does not know where Colombia is.Much less what the amerikans are doing with round-up weed killer..Dumb Joe does not know that on the average, 20 human beings are being hacked with chainsaws because of some shumucks down in WARshington DC.. who thought it was a bright idea to do the spraying..It is just no different than the Nazis gassing the human beings..How can we enlighten the public??ff
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #1 posted by Ethan Russo, MD on July 28, 2001 at 12:39:38 PT:
Deja Vu, Deja Entendu
So, let's see. The Amerikan government says what it is doing is safe. The company that uses the stuff says it's not. A Colombian judge moves to block its application. Amerika perseveres, alone, despite the challenges. The public says nothing.I hope that this is merely the first in a series of dominoes that will get Yanqui militarists, mercenaries, imperialist petroleum barons and their lapdog politicians out of Colombia.
[ Post Comment ]

Post Comment