Colombia rethinks spraying coca crops

2015-05-10 11:36
A coca plant. (Raul Arboleda, AFP)

A coca plant. (Raul Arboleda, AFP)

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Bogota -Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos says the authorities must stop using the controversial herbicide glyphosate - also known by its brand name Roundup - to eradicate illicit coca plantations.

He said: "I'm going to ask the government officials in the national drug council at their next meeting to suspend glyphosate spraying of illicit cultivations (of coca)," Santos said.

Launched in 1994, the spraying programme was long treated as sacrosanct by Colombian officials, who gladly accepted billions of dollars in funding from Washington and succeeded in slashing the cocaine production that has fueled the country's five-decade civil war.

Risk exists

But after the World Health Organisation warned in March that glyphosate is "probably carcinogenic," Santos's cabinet called into question whether to continue the air war on coca - the raw ingredient for cocaine.

"The recommendations and studies reviewed by the ministry of health show clearly that yes, this risk exists," Santos said.

The president said the order did not mean Colombia would "lower its guard" in the fight against drug trafficking.

Drug officials now have until 1 October to come up with a new plan to tackle illicit coca growing.


Read more on:    colombia  |  narcotics

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