BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — Colombia will resume using weed killer to destroy illegal coca crops less than a year after suspending its use due to cancer concerns, the government said Monday.
Defense Minister Luis Carlos Villegas said that instead of dumping glyphosate from American-piloted crop dusters, as Colombia did for two decades, the herbicide will now be applied manually by eradication crews on the ground.
“We’ll do it in a way that doesn’t contaminate, which is the same way it’s applied in any normal agricultural project,” Villegas told La FM radio, adding that he hoped final approval to initiate the work would be completed this week.
President Juan Manuel Santos last year banned use of glyphosate following a World Health Organization decision to classify it as a carcinogen. The ban was heralded by leftists and members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia who have long compared the program to the United States’ use of Agent Orange in Vietnam.
But conservative critics warned that without glyphosate Colombia would soon be awash in coca.