Colombia’s police will use pesticides from the ground to continue cracking down on coca cultivation after it was announced in Thursday that aerial fumigation has been banned.
After Colombia’s president Juan Manuel Santos banned the aerial fumigation of coca plantations using the noxious glyphosate, the police force responded to the ban by announcing their new mode of combating the cultivation; using glyphosate on foot.
Chief of police General Rodolfo Palomino, told El Tiempo newspaper that there are groups within the force who are already trained in the new form of extermination.
“We will continue with other forms of manual eradication and land fumigation with glysophate,” said Palomino.
Until earlier this year Colombia was the only country to use controversial aerial fumigation in order to combat coca production. However, instead of this being successful, coca production increased over the last two years.
The National Narcotics Council (CNE) outlawed the aerial fumigation in May following a recent study published by the World Health Organization (WHO) showing that glyphosate holds dangerous quantities of carcinogens, and thus spraying it on a massive scale may put healthy people at a heightened risk of contracting cancer.
Although the police force will no longer use the Turbo Thrush jet planes to diffuse the chemical weed killer, Palomino said that his men will use the chemical on foot. According to the police chief this is a better alternative to aerial use, which carried the risk of the collateral damage of people and legal cultivation, and it could even be more effective.
“This will allow us to focus on the object, decrease the margins of error and avoid collateral damage,” added Palomino, also mentioning the skill that would be needed for this type of eradication.
Regarding the possible health risks of the chemical, the police chief said that his men who will be carrying out the fumigation have adequate protection through the clothes they are required to wear and the way in which the static fumigation machine functions.
According to Palomino, there is a current search to find a new, less dangerous chemical than glysophate which is hoped to be available in the following months.