From: Reuters
Published September 19, 2005 12:00 AM

Ecuador Concerned by Colombia's Herbicide Use

UNITED NATIONS — Ecuador asked the United Nations Sunday to pursue research on the threat to health of a herbicide used by Colombia to wipe out coca -- the raw material for cocaine -- grown along their shared border.


In the meantime, the government has asked Colombia to suspend spraying activities within six miles of the border, Ecuador's President Alfred Palacio said.


He told the opening meeting of the U.N. General Assembly's 60th session that studies done to date on the safety of the herbicide glyphosate "suffer from technical and methodological deficiencies."


While glyphosate is commonly used by farmers around the world, previous studies, while flawed, have identified a wide range of potential health risks from the herbicide including chemical burns on the skin, depression, genetic damage, skeletal retardation and various cancers, he said.


"Ecuador requests that the United Nations system promote an integral and faithful study to determine the real impact of such sprayings" he said.


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Colombia is the world's largest producer of cocaine and has received more than $3 billion in mainly military aid since 2000 from the United States -- the largest consumer of the drug -- to fight the outlawed industry.


Colombia's coca crops are protected by far-right paramilitaries and Marxist rebels -- fierce foes in the country's four-decade-old guerrilla war, which claims thousands of lives a year. Both illegal armed groups rely on money from cocaine to buy weapons.


Bogota points to a study by the Organization of American States that concluded the chemicals used do not harm either humans or the environment.


Source: Reuters


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