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Colombian president says he will ban glyphosate spraying on coca plants; deadly chemical is routinely sprayed on people's homes and families


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(NaturalNews) Taking a stance against drugs like cocaine is certainly a good thing, but doing it at the expense of the environment and other people's lives is devastating and unacceptable. However, that's exactly what is taking place in parts of Colombia, where aerial fumigations of Monsanto-manufactured glyphosate are sprayed on coca, the plant used to make cocaine.

The amount being sprayed is not insignificant, nor has the spraying been a one-time act. In fact, efforts to get rid of coca crops have been taking place there for more than 20 years. Over the past two decades, more than 4 million acres of coca crops have been sprayed with the toxic chemical.

Not only has the chemical not been effective in wiping out this plant, but it's producing a chain reaction in which the environment and people's health have been put at serious risk. In the relentless pursuit to destroy the illegal crop, many residents' homes and even people themselves have been sprayed. It has also killed thousands of acres of legal crops, affecting the livelihood of individuals and altering food quality. The spraying is also driving people out of the area to nearby locations like Ecuador; there, they hope to escape the lung cancer, hair loss, mental health problems and skin rashes they are developing in droves. The introduction of these health issues then has an impact on Ecuador.

From an environmental perspective, the aerial fumigations are ruining soil and water quality. While that in itself is an issue, those determined to grow coca move to areas where better soil exists. Unfortunately, they are finding their way into the Amazon, where their presence and activity can easily jeopardize biodiversity.

President says spraying of illicit cultivations must be suspended

Thankfully, the Colombian government and many others are standing up against glyphosate spraying. In fact, president Juan Manuel Santos recently called for a ban on it, saying, "I am going to ask the government officials in the National Drug Council at their next meeting to suspend glyphosate spraying of illicit cultivations." Anti-narcotic officials have until October to find an alternative way to combat the problem of illegal crops.

Santos made it very clear that other methods will have to be used to fight coca production, citing health concerns and referencing the World Health Organization's report stating that the chemical is "probably carcinogenic to humans" and shown to cause "DNA and chromosomal damage in human cells." Monsanto, of course, has referred to those findings as nonsense, dismissing them as irresponsible and "junk science." They maintain that glyphosate is safe for human health.

In fact, Monsanto says they "are reaching out to the World Health Organization (WHO) to understand how, despite the wealth of existing science on glyphosate, the IARC panel could make a classification that disagrees with scientific and regulatory reviews." The IARC is the International Agency for Research on Cancer and part of WHO.

"As consumers ourselves, the safety of our products is paramount to each of us who work at Monsanto, and our company is built on a foundation of science," states their press release in response to the IARC classification. "All labeled uses of glyphosate are safe for human health and supported by one of the most extensive worldwide human health databases ever compiled on an agricultural product."

Health problems related to glyphosate show dire need to cease its use

Daniel Mejia, the president of the Colombian government's Advisory Commission on Narcotics Policy, is also against such fumigations. A controversial report he co-authored regarding fumigations between 2003 and 2007 states, "We find significant effects of spraying campaigns on the probability of occurrence of dermatological problems (skin irritations, highlight burnings, etc.) and abortions. Our results corroborate some of the results in the medical literature (e.g., the negative effects of exposure to glyphosate on dermatological problems and abortions)."

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