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Daily News Archive
From October 17, 2001

U.S. State Department to Study Colombian Farmers Exposure to Pesticides

In response to the criticism from scientists, environmentalists and human rights activists, the U.S. State Department announced it will be conducting tests of the human health effects of the U.S. sponsored aerial spraying of Roundup Ultra on coca and heroin-poppy growing regions in Colombia, reports the Pesticide Action Network. The State Department will examine 100 Putumayo Colombian farmers as experimental subjects, examining these individuals before and after the aerial anti-drug applications occur.

Over 95 scientists and health professionals have signed a letter to the U.S. Senate calling for an immediate halt to the aerial fumigations in Colombia. The scientists also write that, although it is important to investigate the pesticides' health effects, they believe that that application and human experiment is unethical.

Over the years, Colombian farmers have made formal complaints to the Colombian government and medical officials that the anti-drug applications have caused enormous damage to their families' health, their legal crops, livestock, and environment. Since 1999, over 300,000 acres of Colombian farmland have been sprayed, with no decrease in total cocoa production. The governors of the six southern Colombian provinces on which aerial anti-drug applications are taking place, have also called for an immediate moratorium to the applications.

Roundup Ultra, which contains the active ingredient glyphosate, is a known skin and eye irritant, and causes elevated blood pressure, numbness and heart palpitations. Studies have shown medium and long term toxicity, genetic damage, reproductive effects and carcinogenicity. Farmers exposed to the chemical have shown increase risk of miscarriages, premature birth and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

For more information on the dangers of Round-Up or the U.S. sponsored drug eradication pesticide spray programs, contact Beyond Pesticides.