Drones Enter the Fight Against Cocaine in Colombia
Colombia, the world’s largest cocaine producer, will resume drone glyphosate spraying after the record coca crop rises in 2017, President Juan Manuel Santos announced on June 26.
The National Drug Control Office in the United States has released figures showing that coca cultivation in Colombia reached a record high in 2017 with 209,000 hectares, an 11 percent year-on-year increase.
Now, the government is resuming their AERIAL pesticide control program, which was suspended since October 2015 because of the harmful effect on health and the environment.
“A series of pilot programs (with drones and herbicide) have been carried out and allow the Ministry of Health and the Environment to say that they respect sanitary and environmental conditions in order to allow them,” said Santos from the presidential palace of Casa de Nariño.
Spraying will now be carried out at a lower altitude and with a concentration of glyphosate 50% lower than that used previously, he said.
“This is similar to what we are already doing, where the people responsible for eradicating the crops are doing ground spraying, with a can on the shoulder,” added Santos, assuring that the new modality of aerial spraying will not be harmful.
The announcement came a day after the US National Drug Control Bureau released data showing that coca cultivation in Colombia reached a record high in 2017 with 209,000 hectares, an 11% increase over a year.
Over the same period, pure cocaine production capacity jumped 19%, from 772 to 921 tonnes in 2017, cites another historical record.
The figures confirm the country’s ranking as the world’s largest producer of cocaine.
President Santos, who will step down in August, did not say when the spraying would resume, but on June 25 Defense Minister Luis Carlos Villegas said he hoped they would resume on June 27.
After using this herbicide for 15 years, Colombia was the last country in the world to suspend aerial spraying against illicit crops because of its harmful effects.
Glyphosate has been the subject of intense scientific controversy since the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a WHO body, classified it as a “probable carcinogen” in 2015, unlike European agencies, EFSA (food safety) and ECHA (chemicals).
This product is particularly controversial in Europe. Following the decision of the European Union in November to renew the license for the herbicide for five years, the French government has recently committed to cease use of the substance by 2021, without including the ban. the law.