Roundup Works -- But Too Well?

Roundup Works -- But Too Well?
Posted by FoM on August 06, 2001 at 09:08:14 PT
By David Adams
Source: St. Petersburg Times
It's a common weed killer and the world's best-selling pesticide. Sometimes referred to by its chemical name, glyphosate, it's better known commercially as Roundup. Odorless and apparently only slightly toxic, you can buy it for your back yard at any large supermarket. So why is its use kicking up such a stink in Colombia? Colombian police have been using it for more than a decade as the weapon of choice in the aerial spraying of coca plants and opium poppies used in the production of cocaine and heroin. 
Not surprisingly, coca farmers have been opposed to Roundup from the beginning. Authorities have never taken their complaints seriously. But lately the protests have gained strength -- and legitimacy. That's because drug crop spraying has dramatically intensified in the past eight months as part of a new joint U.S.-Colombian counter-drug strategy, Plan Colombia. Last year the U.S. approved $1.3-billion for the plan. More than $676-million is on the table this year. Much of that is being devoted to an all-out air and ground assault on the crops. The United States and Colombia argue that the spray campaign is a key element to wiping out the drug trade. In so doing, they believe this also will help achieve peace in Colombia, a country torn by 40 years of brutal conflict, which has seen rival armies of left-wing guerrillas and right-wing paramilitaries fight for control of drug-producing areas. But critics say Roundup is hurting much more than the illicit crops it is designed to destroy. Its application in Colombia has come under fierce attack from peasant groups and agricultural experts who blame it for a sudden spate of reported illnesses and environmental contamination. A Colombian agronomist, Elsa Nivia, says that in the first two months of this year, local authorities reported 4,289 humans suffering skin or gastric disorders, while 178,377 creatures, including cattle, horses, pigs, dogs, ducks, hens and fish, were killed by the spraying. In February, Colombia's national ombudsman demanded a halt to spraying after his office was flooded with complaints of glyphosate poisoning. Equally perturbed, the representative of the United Nations Drug Control Program in Colombia last month called for the setting up of an international auditing mechanism to investigate the allegations, as well as long-term monitoring of the spraying. But U.S. and Colombian officials strongly deny the spraying is responsible. Instead, they accuse local peasants and activists of spreading a sinister campaign of disinformation. "Glyphosate has been the subject of an exhaustive body of scientific literature which has shown that it is not a health risk to humans," Rand Beers, the State Department's top counternarcotics official, said at a Senate hearing last month. "It is used throughout the United States and over 100 other countries and has been rigorously tested for safety for animals and humans." All is true. Mr. Beers also might have pointed out that glyphosate is used by the forestry service in California to control undergrowth when saplings are planted. It's also used in the Everglades to attack the pesky spread of alien species like melaleuca. But Colombian critics, who are increasingly gaining a voice in the United States among foreign policy watchdogs and concerned members of Congress, say the State Department isn't telling the whole story. They allege the solution being used in Colombia is of a higher concentration than is commonly applied in the United States. Chemical additives also are being mixed into the Roundup in Colombia to improve its efficacy. Some experts warn these additives, including the surfactant Cosmo-flux, have never been properly tested in the United States, and might be the cause of skin irritation and other illnesses in Colombia. They point out that Roundup is used in the United States only in highly controlled circumstances, in areas far from human habitation. In Colombia, that is clearly not the case. While great care has been taken to protect the larger towns and villages near the spraying, more remote communities, including native Indian homes and farmsteads, have been sprayed. They also warn that Roundup testing in the United States likely never took into consideration such intense use in the fragile ecosystem of southern Colombia, a low-lying region of tropical rain forest, where large rivers flow into the Amazon. They also question whether its use in Colombia is in accordance with strict U.S. regulations, which require Roundup's manufacturers to provide detailed descriptions on their products' labels. These labels contain the warning: "It is a violation of federal law to use this product in any manner inconsistent with its labeling." The labels warn that contact with eyes or clothing might cause eye irritation in humans, as well as gastrointestinal irritation in domestic animals. Roundup should not be applied "directly to water," or "to areas where surface water is present." In the case of one brand, Roundup Ultra, which critics say is one of the products being used in Colombia, the directions warn against adding any surfactant to the spray mix. The State Department, belatedly perhaps, announced last month that the U.S. embassy in Bogota is sponsoring a study into the issue. It added that a U.S. contracted physician -- described as 'Colombia's leading toxicologist" -- had completed evaluation and treatment of several hundred people in the southern department of Putumayo. The results of his report are anxiously awaited. Can it be that so many peasants are lying? Times staff writer Paul de la Garza contributed to this report. Source: St. Petersburg Times (FL)Author: David AdamsPublished: August 6, 2001 Copyright: 2001 St. Petersburg TimesContact: letters sptimes.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:Colombia Drug War News Sharpens on U.S.- Backed Drug Sprayings Orange, All Over Again Articles - Glyphosate 
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Comment #7 posted by freedom fighter on August 07, 2001 at 19:20:33 PT
round up killed
my cat..If it killed my cat, in my book, it is downright dangerous for anyone!Dose a sinator's daughter and watch what will happen!ff
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Comment #6 posted by dddd on August 07, 2001 at 06:03:52 PT
That's what I say!......."I can't believe this is going on. What is going on. Why isn't there much oppostion in this country. "Where is the OUTRAGE???,,,,what the hell is going on?...The only way I can explain what the problem is,,the Number One thing is that is "wrong",,,,,, once again,I gotta beat the old nag again,,,and say thatit's the ownership/control of the press/media..........If youwanted to take over the U.S.,,there would only be one logicalway to do it,,,,control all the national and regional major media.I'm afraid the "free press",,has ironicly become the venue forthe decline of Constitutional,andFree America......dddd
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Comment #5 posted by The Offspring on August 07, 2001 at 05:03:49 PT
Roundup can do damage
The U.S. Government is lying. I got roundup on my skin before and it caused irritation. The Government must not heard of allergies. I can't believe this is going on. What is going on. Why isn't there much oppostion in this country. The next thing that will happen is the U.S. will invade Canada. Stranger things have happen.
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Comment #4 posted by dddd on August 07, 2001 at 01:56:13 PT
...HAAA!......ssshhhKRACK!!!,,(whip cracking)...Rawherbicide..These "spray" planes,,are not that far from one of those of the main differences,,is that they are far lessaccurate,and their pilots are way less experienced........I imagine them filling the tanks of the spray planes with Roundup....probably from 50 gallon drums,,of which there are hundreds onthe tarmak,,,,delivered by C-130s,,direct from Monsanto inNew Jersey,(?)....The guys who fill the spray planes pop openthem drums like soda pop cans,,,more or less just trying to makea dent in the hundreds of barrels,,,,,the 2 gallons in barrel #M18254,was paid for from the taxes that were stolen from the years worth ofpaychecks of some kids mom,,who works at a McDonalds in Spokane....yup,,,that's what the taxes that were extorted from this personswages paid for,,,two gallons of Roundup,,,that will be sloppilyapplied to the Colombian wilderness.....Uncle Sam is guilty ofwar crimes,,,,he makes Milosovic look like a misbehaved Cub Scout..dddd
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Comment #3 posted by SWAMPIE on August 07, 2001 at 00:45:39 PT
Hi dddd!I agree thatthis whole roundup deal is a very volatile situation,and these ignorant bastards who are pushing for more use of it need to be drawn and quartered!This chemical will make you sick,as I found out the hard way,doing community service for my local gov't about 5 yrs. ago!It's very hard not to get it on you or breathe it.Missed 2 days over it.Maybe we need to spray some at the local conventions where these ignorant pols are present,get it in the news,and let the media expose it for what it really is!
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Comment #2 posted by dddd on August 07, 2001 at 00:33:33 PT
firehose compared to a squirtgun
It is blatantly moronic to compare the use of Roundup in thestates,which is done in carefully controlled applications,,andthe industrial slathering that Colombia is being douched with.....It's about the same as comparing a pair of tweezers,witha steam shovel,,,,a moped with a locomotive,,,a paper planewith the space shuttle. There is no one in control of the spraying in isjust an absurd mandate,that is being carried out by reluctantexpendable rookie personel,,whose main concern is to successfullydump their loads,from a high enough altitude to not get shot down. This absurd fiasco is utterly unreal....I cant believe it is happening,and that it continues..........dddd
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Comment #1 posted by reality on August 06, 2001 at 15:14:51 PT:
Columbia needs some lawsuits
Why don't you hear about any lawsuits. Whenever they have a train derailment or chemical disaster in this country the lawyers fly in and start mailing letters and handing out business cards before the day is out. It makes me think that the America's WOD has corrupted the legal system. Something is wrong. Yeah, besides the WOD.
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