Efforts by the United States to combat cocaine production in Colombia by spraying coca crops with herbicides are coming up against a provision requiring the spraying to meet the same safety standards as those in the U.S. Translation: The U.S. EPA must certify that the spraying “does not pose unreasonable risks or adverse effects to humans or the environment.” The herbicide in use in Colombia is a more toxic variant of a product known in the U.S. by the trade name Roundup. Moreover, watchdog organizations suspect the compound used in Colombia may be mixed with surfactants to cause it to adhere to coca plants, making it even more hazardous. Last year, the U.S.-funded program fumigated 207,000 acres of Colombian land, a number that may climb to 370,000 this year. Critics say the spraying has caused “gastrointestinal disorders (e.g., severe bleeding, nausea, and vomiting), testicular inflammation, high fevers, dizziness, respiratory ailments, skin rashes, and severe eye irritation.”

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