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Due to Safety Concerns, Colombia Will Stop Using Glyphosate Herbicide to Spray Coca

May 12, 2015

Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that glyphosate, a controversial herbicide, is "probably carcinogenic". Following this warning, Colombia has announced that it will stop using glyphosate to get rid of illegal plantations of coca, the raw ingredient for cocaine. BBC reports that United States has sponsored crop-spraying anti-narcotics in South America using this herbicide.

Colombia will have to use other methods to handle the production of coca, said President Juan Manuel Santos. "I am going to ask the government officials in the National Drug Council at their next meeting to suspend glyphosate spraying of illicit cultivations," Mr. Santos said, according to BBC. "The recommendations and studies reviewed by the Ministry of Health show clearly that yes, this risk exists," Colombia's president also stated that the country will not "lower the guard" for drug trafficking. Colombia began implementing its drug eradication program in 1994, according to BBC.

Glyphosate has also been used in other coca-producing countries nearby, such as Ecuador and Peru.

Glyphosate is the main active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, which is widely used for both the home and commercial properties. The New York Times reports that it is crucial to the production of genetically engineered corn and soybeans. The herbicide has been used since the 1970s and has raised safety concerns. In 2004, a study published in Toxicology Review found that glyphosate may be linked to respiratory distress, impaired consciousness, pulmonary edema, arrhythmias, and renal failure.

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