HomeNewsBriefReport Linking Pesticide to Cancer Could Undermine Colombia Coca Eradication
BRIEF

Report Linking Pesticide to Cancer Could Undermine Colombia Coca Eradication

COCA / 24 MAR 2015 BY JAMES BARGENT EN

World Health Organization affiliated scientists have declared that the weed killer used to aerially eradicate coca crops in Colombia is probably carcinogenic, raising questions about whether the government can justify continuing with its controversial policy.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has published a report stating that glyphosate, the chemical sprayed onto Colombia's coca plantations by crop dusting planes, causes DNA and chromosomal damage in human and animal cells studied in laboratories and is likely carcinogenic.

The IARC's analysis of workers exposed to the chemical also suggested a correlation between exposure and an increased risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

The agrochemical manufacturer Monsanto contested the findings, pointing to conclusions by other regulatory agencies including US Environmental Protection Agency rulings on the safe use of glyphosate, reported Al Jazeera America.

In 2013, Colombia sprayed glyphosate on 47,053 hectares of coca, according to the United Nations coca cultivation survey. While this has dropped from a 2006 high of 172,025 hectares, it still accounted for 68 percent of Colombia's total eradication efforts for the year.

InSight Crime Analysis

Colombia is the only coca producing country that allows aerial fumigations, and spraying illegal crops has been a highly controversial policy since it was first introduced in 1994.

Communities in affected areas complain that the fumigations kill off their legal food crops planted nearby, as well as destroying the livelihoods of coca farmers, who only see a tiny fraction of the profits from the cocaine trade.

For years, rural populations have also complained that the spraying has caused health issues such as skin and respiratory problems, birth defects and miscarriages. While this has proven difficult to verify, research has shown a correlation between spraying and rising incidences of skin disorders and miscarriages.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Coca

Critics of the program, which span the spectrum from the guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) to the president of the Colombian government's special advisory commission on drug policy, have long called for a reevaluation of the policy, and the IARC report will make it increasingly difficult to ignore these calls.

In addition, the study raises the possibility that those exposed to the potentially carcinogenic substance could take legal action. Colombia has already settled out of court with its neighbor Ecuador, which took Colombia to the International Court of Justice at The Hague over alleged damage to Ecuador caused by spraying near the border. The Colombian authorities agreed to pay $15 million in damages and to place restrictions on aerial fumigation near the border.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Tags

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

COLOMBIA / 12 MAR 2020

After receiving threats, park rangers in Colombia have abandoned areas of the Amazon that they were protecting. Now these territories…

COLOMBIA / 18 MAR 2014

The massacre of five men from Colombia just across the border in Venezuela's Tachira state has drawn attention to the…

COLOMBIA / 3 DEC 2013

Authorities in Spain have charged 167 people from 15 countries for their alleged roles in a drug trafficking network, offering…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution Met With Uproar

6 MAY 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime launched its latest investigation, Venezuela’s Cocaine Revolution¸ accompanied by a virtual panel on its findings. The takeaways from this three-year effort, including the fact that Venezuela…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…