Pubdate: Mon, 23 Mar 2015
Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA)
Copyright: 2015 The Associated Press
Bookmark: (Cocaine)


BOGOTA, Colombia (AP)- New labeling on the world's most popular weed 
killer as a likely cause of cancer is raising more questions for an 
aerial spraying program in Colombia that underpins U.S.-financed 
efforts to wipe out cocaine crops.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer, a French-based 
research arm of the World Health Organization, on Thursday 
reclassified the herbicide glyphosate as a carcinogen that poses a 
greater potential danger to industrial users than homeowners. The 
agency cited evidence that the herbicide produces cancer in lab 
animals and more limited findings that it causes non-Hodgkin's 
lymphoma in humans.

The glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup is a mainstay of industrial 
agriculture worldwide, and it's a preferred weapon for killing 
Colombian coca harvests. More than 4 million acres of land have been 
sprayed over the past two decades to kill coca plants, whose leaves 
produce cocaine.

The fumigation program, which is partly carried out by American 
contractors, long has provoked hostility from Colombia's left, which 
likens it to the U.S. military's use of the Agent Orange herbicide in 
Vietnam. Leftist rebels, currently in negotiations with the 
government to end a half-century conflict, are demanding an end to 
the spraying as part of any deal.

But U.S. and Colombian government officials argue that cocaine does 
more health damage than aerial spraying.

"Without a doubt this reopens the debate on fumigation and causes us 
to worry," Colombia Health Minister Alejandro Gaviria told The 
Associated Press on Saturday, referring to the WHO findings.

But Gaviria argued that the need to suppress cocaine harvests 
"transcends" other considerations.

Monsanto and other manufacturers of glyphosate-based products 
strongly rejected the WHO ruling. They cited a 2012 ruling by the 
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that the herbicide was safe.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom