In March, scientists organized by the World Health Organization (WHO) found that the herbicide glyphosate, which is an active ingredient in Round-Up, is “probably carcinogenic to humans.” Food and Water Watch, along with the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) are calling for an end to the U.S. backed program that sprays glyphosate on coca fields in Columbia.
Adam Isaacson, senior associate for regional security policy at WOLA said, “there is now proof that the sprayings of glyphosate represent an unacceptable risk to the public. This has critical implications for a program that has been a cornerstone of U.S. drug policy in Colombia.” The herbicide has been sprayed over more than 4 million acres in that country over the past 20 years.
Glyphosate was considered safe for humans and animals since it biodegrades in the soil and since it is only harmful to the shikimate pathway in plants. But gut bacteria in people also use that pathway. And those bacteria play a critical role in our immune systems.
Isaacson continued, “the past 20 years’ experience with coca eradication suggests that the best way to reduce coca cultivation is to bring development to eh coca-growing areas. Most coca growers are poor, small-scale farmers. Aerial fumigation destroys their primary source of income, pushing them further into poverty and reinforcing their reliance on coca growing.”