The Colombian Government advances in the requirements imposed by the Constitutional Court to resume aerial spraying of illicit crops. In 2015, the high court suspended the sprays on the grounds that they can be carcinogenic to humans and damage the environment. However, he indicated that they could be developed again if six requirements are met, which the Iván Duque Administration is now advancing.
On April 12, the Colombian government issued a decree that gives it a legal framework to return to aerial spraying of illicit crops with glyphosate. It is a controversial decision: the Executive assures that they are necessary to eradicate coca crops and hit drug traffickers.
However, the opposition and various farming communities highlight not only the health and environmental risks posed by glyphosate, but also the social consequences that a return to this method can have.
Fumigations, which for years were used in Colombia to eliminate illicit crops, also damage other types of crops, flora and fauna essential for life in the countryside. In addition, it leaves the families that are dedicated to the cultivation of the coca leaf without sustenance or compensation, many times forced to do this work by the economic context.
The text of the Government of President Iván Duque includes measures on the control of risks to health and the environment with the sprinkling method. Glyphosate is not prohibited in this country, as it is used in agriculture and gardening.
However, its use by air was suspended in 2015, following recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO) and an order from the Constitutional Court that considered that the herbicide can cause cancer in humans and damage the environment.
Among the new regulations that the Government formulated to lift the current veto are the guidelines on how the complaints mechanism will work in the event of possible effects on the health of people and nature.
Also in compliance with the Court’s request, the National Environmental Licensing Authority (ANLA) approved the modification of the Environmental Management Plan (PMA) of the Program for the Eradication of Illicit Crops by Aerial Aspersion with the Glyphosate Herbicide (PECIG).
Another of the requirements that the court made to endorse its resumption were studies on health risk. The Ministry of Health is already evaluating the results of a study on this matter, for which it hired the University of Córdoba, in the north of the country.
The return to glyphosate spraying is detrimental to the provisions of the peace agreement
Despite calls not to resume them, the government of Iván Duque insists that these sprays are necessary for the fight against drug trafficking. But this stance goes against the voluntary substitution agreed with the communities of peasants and coca leaf growers, in the peace agreement that then-President Juan Manuel Santos signed in 2016 with the extinct guerrilla group FARC.
For this reason, it is also expected that an amparo appeal filed by the communities will be resolved first, arguing that they lack of guarantees of participation in the process of the Environmental Management Plan that was approved by ANLA.
Additionally, the National Narcotics Council (CNE) must verify compliance with the established requirements. “The program will be focused on industrialized and technified crops, and new crops with the interference of organized armed groups, residual and criminal drug trafficking groups,” said Defense Minister Diego Molano, who foresees that this type of fumigation will be reactivated in the coming months. . The verification process could last until June.
The Anti-Narcotics Directorate of the Colombian Police maintains that it is ready to begin spraying when all the necessary protocols are met.
With EFE and local media
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