Chicago Tribune

Fumigation dangers

July 23, 2001|By Kathryn S. Fuller, President, World Wildlife Fund.

On behalf of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and its 1.2 million members, I write to express concern about the potentially grave environmental impacts of ongoing aerial fumigation through Plan Colombia. Colombia is among the richest countries for plants and animals on the planet and has been a WWF priority for more than 20 years. Not only do regions like the Choco, the Andes and the Amazon have extraordinarily rich biodiversity, they also are home to species found nowhere else.

These far-off regions have strong links to the United States as well. For example, the northern Andes serves as an important wintering ground for North American migratory birds.

This biological richness faces a serious threat from application of Glyphosate (the active ingredient in the herbicide better known by its trade name of Roundup) to eliminate coca plants. Glyphosate is acutely toxic to virtually all plants and trees, and, in combination with other ingredients in Roundup, to humans as well. Aerial fumigation with Roundup, in the manner in which it is occurring in Colombia, is illegal in many parts of the 

 United States because of environmental and human health risks. WWF recommends the elimination of aerial application of Roundup at least until an adequate environmental impact study has been conducted.