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From September 29, 2005                                                                                                           

Ecuador Asks the UN to Study the Health Effects of Glyphosate
(Beyond Pesticides, September 29, 2005)
Ecuador is urging the United Nations (UN) to pursue research about the health effects of glyphosate. Ecuador’s concern is motivated by the US backed efforts to eradicate cocaine production in Columbia. The efforts include large scale aerial spraying of Roundup and Cosmo-Flux 411F over coca plantations. Ecuador is so concerned about the effects of the herbicides that they have asked the Columbian government to suspend spraying within 6 miles of their border.

Earlier this month, Ecuador's President Alfred Palacio addressed the UN General Assembly saying that current studies about the safety and health effects of glyphosate, “suffer from technical and methodological deficiencies.” He also noted that previous studies, which have acknowledged the connection between the pesticide and such negative effects as chemical burns on the skin, depression, genetic damage, skeletal retardation and various cancers, need to be weighed more heavily. He also requested that, “the United Nations system promote an integral and faithful study to determine the real impact of such sprayings”

The environment and the people of Columbia have been paying a high price for the sprayings that have become such an integral part of the war on drugs. Since glyphosate is non-selective, native plants and subsistence crops are killed as well. This leads to major declines in biodiversity and stress on the ecosystem, as well as threatening food security of people that subsistence farm. Also, as noted above, exposure to such a toxic pesticide directly threatens the health of humans and other organisms in the area.

Further concerns have been raised as the drug war pushes coca produces deep into the rainforest. Not only does the production of coca itself harm the rainforest by requiring the clearing of land and the use of natural resources, but also if the eradication efforts were to move into the rainforest hundreds of thousands of unique species of flora and fauna would be harmed. Currently, spraying is banned in rainforest nature reserves, however the Columbian government is considering lifting the ban.