In accordance with the Kenneth M. Ludden Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2002, the State Department on September 4, 2002 delivered to Congress its report on the U.S.-supported aerial eradication program in Colombia. The Act requires a determination and report by the Secretary of State that chemicals used in the aerial eradication of coca crops in Colombia do not pose unreasonable health or safety risks to humans or the environment.
The report describes the chemicals used in the spray mixture and how it is applied in Colombia. The aerial spray mixture contains three components: water, an EPA-registered formulation of the herbicide glyphosate, and the surfactant, Cosmo-Flux 411F. The commercial glyphosate formulation is registered, produced and sold in Colombia where the State Department’s Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs purchases this herbicide for the Government of Colombia to use in its spray program. Cosmo-Flux 411F is a surfactant produced in Colombia that increases the effectiveness of the spray mixture by enhancing the ability of the herbicide to penetrate the waxy surface of the coca leaves.
These components are mixed together by the Colombian National Police in the following percentages: 55 percent water, 44 percent glyphosate formulation, and 1 percent Cosmo-Flux 411F. The diluted mixture is applied to coca at the rate of 2.53 gallons per acre. This application rate is within the glyphosate manufacturer’s recommendations for both the amount of concentrated formulation per acre and the amount of total spray volume per acre for woody plants and hard-to-control species. Coca is a hardy, woody bush that falls into this category. The Colombian manufacturer of Cosmo-Flux 411F recommends its use in a dose ranging from 0.5 to 1.5 percent. The use of 1 percent Cosmo-Flux 411F in the spray mixture is within the manufacturer’s recommendation.
The report also outlines the conditions under which the spraying takes place. Spraying is conducted in Colombia under rigid parameters laid out by the Colombian Government’s Environmental Auditor to the spray program. For instance, spray missions are cancelled if wind speed at the airport is greater than 10 M.P.H., if relative humidity is below 75 percent, or if temperature is over 32 degrees Celsius (90 degrees Fahrenheit) – to avoid drift that might come from a temperature inversion.
As mandated in the legislation, the State Department consulted with the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and their responses are included in the report.
The report is available on the Department of State’s website at www.state.gov.
Released on September 5, 2002
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