Colombia can fumigate closer to Ecuador border: bi-national committee

(Photo: El Universal)

A bi-national committee has concluded that Colombia can fumigate coca crops closer to Ecuador’s border, Colombian newspaper El Tiempo reported on Friday.

The technical committee, composed of both Colombian and Ecuadorian government officials, said that the current 10-kilometer buffer zone in place since 2005 can be reduced by half to 5 kilometers.

The agreement comes one year after Colombia agreed to pay $15 million in compensation to Ecuadorians over alleged damage caused by the glyphosate herbicide used for fumigation. Following the announcement of the payment, Ecuador agreed to retract its 2008 formal complaint to the International Court of Justice over said damage.

MORE: The rising tide against aerial fumigation of coca in Colombia

Among the committee’s findings was that the maximum distance the glyphosate chemical drifted from the area of fumigation was 120 meters.

Ecuadorian farmers have claimed that in the past the chemical has reached distances of up to 40 or 50 kilometers into Ecuadorian territory, according to Cable Noticias.

While the limit is being reduced to 5 kilometers, the agreement leaves open the possibility of reducing the distance even further in the future to possibly just 2 kilometers.

In recent months, Colombia’s southern border region of Putamayo has experienced unrest over environmental and health damage caused by aerial fumigation and oil fields. Residents have blocked roads used by oil contractors demanding less military presence and more social investment.

President Juan Manuel Santos won the presidential election in Putamayo this year after running on a promise to end the use of fumigation with glyphosate, according to Colprensa. The practice, as evidenced by this agreement, still continues.

MORE: Aerial fumigation and oil fields spur mass protest in southern Colombia


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