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Columbia Court Says U.S.-Backed Aerial Spray Program Must Stop
(Beyond Pesticides, July 2, 2003) Due the lack of available data on the health and environmental safety of the herbicide used in Colombia's U.S.-funded drug crop eradication program, a Colombian Court, on June 26, 2003, ordered the program to be halted, according to the Associated Press. The ruling is the result of a lawsuit filed by Claudia Sampedro, who represents environmentalists, human rights activists, and small farmers staunchly opposed to the spray program. The decision comes just over a month after Colombian's Constitutional Court ordered the government to consult on the program with indigenous communities, which is largely impacted by the program's aerial spraying of the herbicide glyphosate.

The spray program, which the U.S. finances as part of its multibillion dollar Colombian aid package, is designed to eradicate coca and other plants used to manufacture illicit drugs. Besides causing health effects such as skin rashes and other ailments, critics say the program indiscriminately wipes out legitimate subsistence crops, natural plants, and kills birds, mammals and aquatic life. (See the September 6, 2002 photo story)

The aerial spray program will continue as the Colombian government appeals the ruling. Critics disagree with U.S. and Colombian officials who say that the program has resulted in a significant reduction in drug crops in the country.

For background information on this issue, see Colombian Governors Protest U.S.-Backed Aerial Herbicide Spraying, Environmentalists Call on UN to Urge Columbia to Halt Aerial Spraying for Drug Eradicationand EPA Report Criticizes Herbicide Mix in Columbian Coca Eradication.