international agency for research on cancer

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Colombia: President Calls For Suspension of Aerial Spraying of Illicit Crops


Call Comes After World Health Organization Research Arm Exposes Health Risks of Herbicide Used in Colombia

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on Saturday called for the suspension of Colombia’s aerial spraying program to eradicate illicit crop cultivation. This came after the recent release of a study by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a research arm of the World Health Organization, which found that the main chemical used in the aerial spraying program, glyphosate, is likely carcinogenic to humans.

“Few presidents have been as bold as President Santos in calling for global alternatives to the failed drug war,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “His suspension of the spraying program suggests that he recognizes the need to promote reforms not just on the global stage but at home as well.”

After the report was released, Colombian Health Minister Alejandro Gaviria made a strong recommendation to cease aerial spraying, stating that the report’s findings on glyphosate represent an “inescapable warning of possible adverse health effects.” However, Colombia's Defense Minister responded by saying that the country would continue to use glyphosate until President Santos orders otherwise, exposing a rift between the response and perspective of the two agencies – Health and Defense – on drug control.

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