Colombia To Keep Spraying Drug Crops Despite Court

Colombia To Keep Spraying Drug Crops Despite Court
Posted by FoM on July 31, 2001 at 10:47:27 PT
By Monica Garcia
Source: Reuters 
The chief of Colombia's anti-narcotics forces said on Monday he would continue aerial spraying of drug crops, arguing Friday's court-ordered suspension only applied to select tribal zones. Gen. Gustavo Socha Salamanca told Reuters in an interview the Bogota court's ruling only applied to the indigenous communities -- where he said his team was not spraying.``We are spraying both coca and poppy crops,'' Socha said. ''Those who brought the case were talking about a community and a specific region. ... We have to respect the ruling in this region.'' 
In a copy of the court ruling obtained by Reuters, Bogota Judge Gilberto Reyes Delgado ordered ``the immediate suspension of the entire fumigation project with spraying of glyphosate.''He made no mention of any specific area of Colombia and asked the government to provide studies on glyphosate's effects on the environment and human health.A forced end to aerial spraying of coca leaf -- the raw ingredient in cocaine -- would deliver a major blow to President Andres Pastrana's ``Plan Colombia'' anti-drug offensive.The U.S. -- a staunch supporter of aerial spraying -- is pouring more than $1 billion in mostly military aid into Pastrana's anti-narcotics program.A key part of that military aid, three of an eventual total of 16 UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters, arrived in Colombia on Friday. The choppers will carry troops and back up spraying in areas prowled by leftist rebels fighting in Colombia's 37-year guerrilla war.Glyphosate Controversy Glyphosate is commonly used as a weed killer by farmers throughout the world, and U.S. biotechnology giant Monsanto Co. supplies the herbicide to Colombia. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Monsanto's popular Roundup herbicide.Colombia has been spraying glyphosate for years but vastly increased the effort in 2000 with the launch of the anti-cocaine offensive ``Plan Colombia.''So far this year, police have destroyed 127,000 acres of coca. Although aerial spraying programs have tapered off recently because of the wet season, police hope to destroy another 74,000 acres by the end of the year.The program has caused increasing controversy, with growing protests by peasant growers.The farmers argue the spraying kills legitimate crops, makes people sick and damages the environment. They have led marches against aerial spraying, and have threatened to block the Pan-American highway in protest.Although glyphosate has won wide approval from governments around the world, controversy is building over two Colombian- made chemicals mixed with the herbicide to increase its potency. The chemicals have been classified ``lightly toxic'' by the Colombian health ministry.Colombia is the largest producer of cocaine in the world and recent satellite data suggested there is more of the drug's raw material -- coca leaf -- grown than previously thought.A recent U.N. study showed there were 402,000 acres of coca in all of Colombia as of late last year, well above earlier U.S. estimates of about 340,000 acres. Newshawk: JormaSource: ReutersAuthor: Monica GarciaPublished: July 30, 2001Copyright: Reuters News WireRelated Articles & Web Site:Colombia Drug War News Drug Crop Fumigation Resumes Judge Suspends Fumigation of Coca Fields Articles - Glyphosate 
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