The present issue of Drugs & Conflict intends to debunk and disentangle the most prominent myths surrounding the coca leaf. It aims to clear the air and help steer the debate towards a more evidence-based judgement of the issues.
Reports of the discovery of a coca plant in Colombia's Sierra Nevada that have a high cocaine content and a higher level of purity, and also resistant to the effects of aerial spraying is based on evidence that is riddled with errors and distortions. It reflects badly on the INCB and the media that unquestioningly reported it.
Despite 2006 witnessing the most intensive use of fumigation in the country’s history, some 157,200 hectares of cultivation areas were detected, 13,200 hectares more than in 2005. Is the fumigation strategy failing?
An impressive reduction of the coca-cultivated area has been achieved within the framework of Plan Dignidad, but this ‘success’ has exacted a heavy toll in terms of the impoverishment and criminalisation of the Bolivian coca leaf-growing peasantry, or cocaleros, as they are known.
The Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD), an agency affiliated with the OAS, recently joined the large number of existing scientific studies on the possible health and environmental effects of Round Up, the glyphosate formula being sprayed on illicit crops in Colombia. CICAD’s investigation, under the direction of an international scientific team, concluded that the chemicals used in the spraying — glyphosate and Cosmo-Flux — do not affect human health or the environment, and that at most they could cause temporary skin and eye irritation, but serious doubts exist. The National University of Colombia’s Environmental Studies Institute published a critical analysis of the CICAD study, which considered technical aspects of the investigation, finding methodological shortcomings, as well as omissions and inconsistencies throughout the report. Those findings could point to a lack of impartiality in the CICAD study.