Tuesday, February 04, 2003

Your tax dollars at work [SciDev.Net]
The Colombian government is continuing to spray the herbicide glyphosate over thousands of acres of land in a bid to destroy illegal coca plantations, despite local concern that it damages crops and is harmful to human health.

Both the Colombian government and the US Environmental Protection Agency maintain that the herbicide � which is sold by Monsanto under the name Roundup � is entirely safe.

But critics contend that spraying the herbicide from aeroplanes over large areas of land has damaged local produce such as plantain, cassava, maize, and fruit trees. Furthermore there have been allegations from people living in the affected regions that animals are dying as a result of exposure to the chemical, and that it is no longer safe to drink water or eat food that has been similarly exposed.

Colombian president �lvaro Uribe-Velez argues that aerial spraying with glyphosate is the only way to exterminate the Colombian drug problem, and last year the anti-narcotics department fumigated 320,000 acres in this way. The US administration, which has given more than US$1.3 billion to combat drug traffickers in the past three years, has strongly supported this policy.

The money left over from paying Monsanto goes to more productive uses, like hysterical Superbowl ads, and spurious vendettas. [ATTN: GAO: generic glyphosate is now available].

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