Colombian government has announced that it will suspend coca crop fumigation using the controversial chemical glyphosate.
A well known herbicide, glyphosate is used in main-scale agriculture across the U.S. used to eradicate broadleaf weeds and other grasses.
Noted as a carcinogenic by the World Health Organization, eradication of glyphosate usage has been seen as a turn around by Colombia in the country’s ongoing fight against coca crop cultivation, RCN Radio reports.
Illicit crops pose a problem
In rural areas, excessive fumigation has also provoked skin welts and open sores, notably in Colombia’s Nariño region, when children have come into contact with the sprayed crops.
“Illicit crops destroy our forestland, damage countryside economy and are the start of the drug trafficking chain with its aftermath of violence and corruption… Colombia doesn’t have to be the main global coca exporter, and we are going to prove that.” President Juan Manuel Santos said in a mandate according to El Espectador.
As part of his Plan for the Substitution of Illicit crops, Santos has planned a crackdown on coca production. Excessive coca crops not only increase the operations of criminal groups, but the plant itself, and the deforestation required to sow it, has had a marked environmental impact on Colombia.
“We have been talking with the FARC in relation to joint plans for crop substitution. Imagine what that will mean. The FARC, instead of defend illicit crops and drug trafficking, will help the state to eradicate them,” Santos added.
Decrease in numbers
According to a report released by Colombian government of the country’s 1,102 municipalities only 204 contain coca crops, as 81 percent of the production is concentrated within six departments: Cauca, Caquetá, Putumayo, Nariño, Guaviare and Norte de Santander.
But Colombia’s National Authority for Environmental Licensing (Anla) has finally passed resolution 1214, a 24 page document ordering suspension of glyphosate use, after the country’s National Drugs Council had begun the process during May last year.
For now the news strategy for coca crop eradication will be use of an “alternative measure, which will perhaps be more effective than aerial fumigation. This will enable us to refocus our objective, reduce error margins or avoid collateral damages.” Head of Colombian National Police General Rodolfo Palomino told El Tiempo.
Good news for Colombia’s peace process as both the FARC and government look to reduce the number of illicit coca plantations scattered across rural areas.