Vicious Circle

The Chemical and Biological "War on Drugs"
08 March 2001
Report

Aerial fumigations with herbicides of drug crops in Colombia set in motion a vicious circle of human, social and environmental destruction. A worldwide campaign calls for the end of these harmful and inefficient forced eradication practices.

Aerial fumigations with herbicides of drug crops in Colomba set in motion a vicious circle of human, social and environmental destruction. In Vicious Circle - The Chemical and Biological 'War on Drugs', TNI-fellow Martin Jelsma describes how in the course of the cycle human rights are violated, the legitimacy of the state is eroded, alternative development is aborted, peasant support for the guerrilla increases, the war extends to new areas, and the War on Drugs is entangled with counterinsurgency objectives. Over the past decade, more than 300,000 hectares of coca and opium poppy fields in Colombia have been sprayed with herbicides.

The coordinated, forced eradication of illicit crops worldwide has intensified since 1998. Plan Colombia involves the drastic intensification of the chemical War on Drugs. The herbicide currently used is based on glyphosate and has been recently altered in composition causing more severe devastation. The DEA has proposed mass spraying operations of US marijuana crops in order to improve their negotiating position and legitimacy in promoting aerial operations in other countries.

Plans have been made to launch a biological front in the War on Drugs. Bio-herbicides with killer spores intentionally released into the environment, which will multiply and disperse like a plague are considered the ‘silver bullet’ in the War on Drugs. Fungi have been identified to destroy coca, marijuana and opium poppy.

The aerial fumigation cycle causes pollution affecting humans, animals and vegetation, and destroys the livelihoods of peasant and indigenous communities forcing these groups to migrate deeper into the rainforest. This displacement accelerates the pace of deforestation where slash and burned plots are planted with illicit coca or poppy crops replacing those previously fumigated. The new plots are eventually fumigated and the cycle starts over again exacerbating the current armed conflict.

Despite huge areas sprayed net coca cultivation in Colombia tripled since fumigations started, demonstrating the futility of the exercise. Aerial fumigations have only accomplished setting in motion a Vicious Circle of destruction.

This publication analyses the chemical and biological War on Drugs and argues for breaking this Vicious Circle.The first section outlines the chemical operations and impact in Colombia.The second part describes the background and current status of the biological War on Drugs. The third chapter provides a brief overview of the history of forced eradication worldwide within the context of international drug policy trends.

Finally, the last chapter proposes the necessary foundations for an illicit crop policy framework while addressing the most pressing choices Colombia and the international community face today.

A worldwide campaign calls for the end of these harmful and inefficient forced eradication practices. Break the Vicious Circle of aerial fumigations, environmental destruction and the armed conflict in Colombia. Stop the chemical and biological War on Drugs.

Pages: 36

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