Pubdate: Tue, 24 Mar 2015
Source: Orlando Sentinel (FL)
Copyright: 2015 Associated Press
Note: Rarely prints out-of-state LTEs.
Author: Joshua Goodman, Associated Press


BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) - The new labeling of 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 is the cornerstone of the 
U.S.-backed war on drugs.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer, a French-based 
research arm of the World Health Organization, has reclassified the 
herbicide glyphosate as a result of what it said is convincing 
evidence the chemical produces cancer in lab animals and more limited 
findings it causes non-Hodgkin lymphoma in humans.

The ruling last week is likely to send shock waves around the globe, 
where the glyphosate-containing herbicide Roundup is a mainstay of 
industrial agriculture.

In Colombia, there is an added political dimension stemming from the 
debate that has raged over a program that has sprayed more than 4 
million acres of land in the past two decades to kill coca plants, 
used to produce cocaine.

The fumigation program, which is financed by the U.S. and partly 
carried out by American contractors, has long been an irritant to 
Colombia's left, which likens it to the U.S. military's use of the 
Agent Orange herbicide during the Vietnam War.

Ending Colombia's spraying program has also been a demand of leftist 
rebels negotiating with the government on an accord to end the 
country's halfcentury armed conflict.

Daniel Mejia, a Bogota-based economist who is chairman of a panel 
advising the Colombian government on its drug strategy, said the new 
report is by far the most authoritative and could end up burying the 
fumigation program.

"Nobody can accuse the WHO of being ideologically biased," Mejia said.

A paper he published last year, based on a study of medical records 
between 2003 and 2007, found a higher incidence of skin problems and 
miscarriages in districts targeted by aerial spraying.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom