Verification Mission Report "Impacts in Ecuador of the fumigations carried out in Putumayo within the Plan Colombia" -

Verification Mission Report

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By Ecuadorian Organizations

Permanent concern about the harmful effects of glyphosate fumigations and its effects on the Ecuadorian border, called on various organizations to carry out a mission to verify the effects on populations in Colombia and Ecuador.

Executive Summary

Permanent concern about the harmful effects of glyphosate fumigations and its effects on the Ecuadorian border, called on various organizations to carry out a mission to verify the effects on populations in Colombia and Ecuador, on the San Miguel River strip; Aguas Blancas, La Pedregosa, Nueva Granada and Los Cristales sectors, in Colombia; Chone 2 and Puerto Nuevo, in Ecuador. (see map). The results of this verification are as follows:

· The new period of fumigations against illicit crops that began on July 28 in the department of Putumayo, in Colombia, and the border area, in Ecuador, has generated severe impacts on the health of the population, on their crops, animals and life forms.

· The work carried out by the multidisciplinary and inter-institutional team to the border area and the determination of the distances with GPS from the points where fumigations were carried out to the San Miguel River, allows to corroborate that the requests of the Ecuadorian Chancellery have NOT been respected nor that of the Ambassador of Ecuador in Colombia, regarding the establishment of a buffer zone for fumigations, which imply no fumigation in a perimeter of 8 to 10 km of the San Miguel River (binational border), within Colombian territory.
In this regard, it was confirmed that the fumigations are affecting the Ecuadorian territory. In some cases, it is being fumigated up to the bank of the San Miguel River, the planes violating the Ecuadorian airspace. In addition, due to the air drift of the chemicals, serious damage is being caused to the way of life of the Ecuadorian border population.

· The medical analyzes carried out make it possible to relate the symptoms described by the population with those produced by inactivation of cholinesterase, which is the effect of organophosphates. There is an overstimulation of the Central Nervous System that causes: headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain and weakness. These symptoms are accompanied by others that are more specific to the Round Up Ultra characterized by being strongly irritating to the eyes and skin.

· Blood tests carried out on residents of the border area alert us to the risk of spraying on a population with chromosomal fragility levels 17 times higher than normal. This situation raises the question about the incidence of recent fumigations in the increase of the chromosomal aberrations detected or even if they are due to other factors, yet to be determined, but which may negatively influence a population already at risk. This situation is extremely delicate, since chromosomal fragility implies a greater facility for the appearance of cancer, mutations, malformations and abortions.

· The complaint of inhabitants of the area of ​​having seen two different types of fumigations (one of white liquid and others of brown powder), led us to analyze plant samples to discard, that despite the existing prohibitions, the biological agent Fusarium oxysporum; Faced with this, the use of biological agents classified as biological weapons would be faced, which obviously would have serious implications at the international level. Although the limitations for the technical analysis of detection did not allow to determine the species, the presence of the genus Fusarium was found in all the samples taken, from roots, leaves and soils.

· Damage to self-subsistence crops and those destined for the market, in whole or in a very high percentage, have affected the population of this region, leading to the food crisis and forced displacement. These populations are not receiving health support or compensation to be able to recover the losses caused.

1. Background

Aerial spraying, within the framework of Plan Colombia, officially began in the Putumayo department on December 22, 2000. Until January 28, 2001, around 29,000 hectares were fumigated; During 2001 94,000 hectares were fumigated, according to the US embassy in Colombia. The North American Administration plans to expand the fumigation area to 150,000 hectares during 2002 and 200,000 hectares by 2003, which will exacerbate the socio-environmental and human health impacts of border populations.

1.a. The chemical formula used

Although it has been impossible to confirm which chemical mixture is being sprayed, according to the technical parameters of the National Narcotics Council for aerial spraying of illicit crops [1], the following amounts are applied in the mixture:

Plane loadingPlane loading1137 -1705 liters
Effective discharge (from Roundup Ultra, with 43.9% glyphosate)23.4 liters / hectare
(30 to 50 drops / cm2)
10.3 L / ha of glyphosate
Mixing tank0.4 - 0.7 mm3 / cm240 - 70 liters / ha

The mixture used contains: 44% Roundup Ultra, while the US label of use for Roundup Ultra allows concentrations of 1.6% to 7.7% for most uses and, at most, a concentration of the 29%. The US label indicates that under most conditions, aerial application should not exceed 1 liter (quart) per acre of formulated product. In Colombia, the rate corresponds to almost 4.5 times that amount. [2]

If a 300 gallon (1,137 liter) aircraft is considered to deposit 40 L / ha of the mixture, with an effective discharge of 23.4 L / ha of Roundup Ultra, this discharge is equivalent to 10.3 L / ha of glyphosate in salt form IPA. This means that glyphosate is applied in concentrations of 26%, and not the 1% recommended in the United States for ground applications, with protective equipment and aimed at agricultural weeds. In addition to this situation, Cosmo Flux 411F quadruples the biological action of glyphosate.

1 B. Effects of the fumigations in Colombia in 2001

The fumigations carried out in Colombia caused great controversy, given the numerous complaints of damage to licit crops, livestock and, especially, to the health of the population living in the areas adjacent to the fumigation areas.

In the Valle del Guamuez Municipality, on the border with Ecuador, a consolidated impact from fumigations was reported, which registered 1,551 people affected in their health, 3,174 hectares of legal crops destroyed and 55,045 affected or dead animals distributed in 44 villages.

This report, prepared by the police inspection [3] collects damage to crops and animals broken down as follows:

Damage to crops and animals in the Valle del
Guamuez (Colombia) - 2001
CropsHave you%AnimalsNo.%
Yucca1635.1%Guinea pigs9801.8%
Fruit trees1384.3%Ducks3650.6%

1 C. Effects in Ecuador of the 2001 Colombian fumigations

In October 2000, the press reported the first health impacts in Mataje (Esmeraldas) associated with the fumigations carried out in the department of Nariño, with 44 sick people after the first fumigation (El Comercio, Quito, 10/22/00 )

In January, El Comercio echoed the impacts in the province of Sucumbíos from the December fumigations. (El Comercio, Quito, 01/12/01)

the demands of peasants from the parishes of General Farfán, Nueva Months later, 188 peasants from different communities presented a complaint to the Lago Agrio Ombudsman's Office; procedure that passed to the Office of the Ombudsman of Quito where its advance was frozen. This complaint included Loja, Pacayacu, Dureno and Tarapoa. The lawsuit included the following losses:

Crop damage and
animals in Sucumbíos (Ecuador) - 2001


No. hectares damaged



N ° dead animals


Corn873.4%Guinea pigs1171.0%
Fruit trees532.0%Dogs490.4%

Despite the huge losses to family and domestic agriculture, no authority has traveled to the areas to check "in situ" the damage reported in said complaint.

1.d. Effects of fumigations in Colombia in 2002

The second stage of fumigations began on July 28, 2002. Despite the short time that has elapsed, the complaints are already accumulating in the respective instances:

- The Mayor's Office of Puerto Asís [4] denounces that since August 11 of this year the municipality was fumigated "affecting more than 2,254 families (from 58 villages), some of them beneficiaries of the Manual Eradication Program.

- A report from Agroamazonía [5] dated September 23, 2002, describes how Palmito crops have been affected in the Guamuez Valley, Puerto Asís, and Orito. Of 32 palm heart growers with 54.8 hectares planted, they report damages of 43.8 hectares, which is equivalent to 80% of the cultivated area.

- The Office of the Ombudsman of Colombia [6] on October 9 affirms that: "3.9.5 In addition to the previous complaints, complaints have been filed in the department due to the damage to the health of its inhabitants, allegedly caused by the fumigations.

In the report of the Subdirectorate of Public Health of the Department of Putumayo on the effects of fumigations in several municipalities of that territorial entity, it reported that "(& # 8230;) 4,883 (85%) of the 5,929 people listed in the complaint and When questioned by officials from the Orito Technical Assistance Unit and from the 282 villages that make up the three municipalities, 46.4% reported symptoms attributed to fumigation. The symptoms were related to respiratory problems 29% (964), gastrointestinal 26.4% (876), dermal 15.8% (524), psychological 1.9% (64), fever 15.5% (516), malaise 5.4% (179), dizziness 4.1% (32) and other 0.9% (29) ". This report adds that at the Hospital de la Hormiga there was "a statistically significant increase for events of fever, diarrhea, abdominal pain, acute respiratory infection and skin infections." The report concludes: "an epidemiological surveillance system for acute poisoning caused by pesticides and a nutritional surveillance system are required" [7].

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