New Studies Reveal DNA Damage from Anti-Coca Herbicide
By Stephen Leahy
Scientific studies have collected evidence of the negative effects of the glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup on human and animal health. The chemical is used in aerial spraying to eliminate illicit coca crops in Colombia.
TORONTO, Jun 11 (Tierramérica).- U.S.-funded aerial spraying of suspected coca plantations in Colombia near the Ecuador border has severely damaged the DNA of local residents, a new study has found.
Blood samples from 24 Ecuadorians living within three kilometers of the northern border had 600 to 800 percent more damage to their chromosomes than people living 80 km away, found scientists from the Pontificia Catholic University in Quito, Ecuador.
The border residents who were tested had been exposed to the common herbicide glyphosate — sold by the U.S. agribusiness giant Monsanto under the brand Roundup –during a series of aerial sprayings by the Colombian government begun in 2000, part of the anti-drugs and counterinsurgency Plan Colombia, financed by Washington.
The Ecuadorians suffered a variety of ailments immediately following the spraying, including intestinal pain and vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, dizziness, numbness, burning of eyes or skin, blurred vision, difficulty in breathing and rashes, says the study, which is to be published in the journal Genetics and Molecular Biology.
But the extensive damage to DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) found in the randomly selected individuals may activate the development of cancer or other developmental effects resulting in miscarriages, according to lead researcher César Paz y Miño, head of human molecular genetics at the Catholic University of Ecuador.
In general, everyone has some level of DNA damage due to exposure to ultraviolet radiation, air pollution, toxic chemicals and other factors. However, none of the 24 randomly-selected individuals used tobacco, alcohol or non-prescription drugs, nor did they use other herbicides or pesticides that could have caused the extensive DNA damage observed, Paz y Miño told Tierramérica.
The concentration levels of Roundup were measured at more than 20 times the maximum recommended rate and may be the reason behind the genotoxic (capable of causing genetic mutation) effect on the exposed individuals, he said.
The blood samples were collected by Spanish doctor Adolfo Maldonado, of the non-governmental Acción Ecológica, which since the beginning of this decade has been studying health, economic and social problems of Ecuadorian populations affected by the aerial herbicide spraying in neighboring Colombia.
For complete story see New Studies Reveal DNA Damage from Anti-Coca Herbicide
For a global update on the war on drugs see this Aug 19/07 Washington Post article “The Lost War”