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The Global Drug Trade - Environmental Destruction

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…to environmental destruction…

More than 30 years ago, the US came up with the superhero tactic to rid the world, and especially their own country (where the demand was coming from), of the evil empire of narcotics. They called it the War on Drugs.
The most widespread method of destroying the coca plant in the 90s, and the opium poppy still today, was to manually pull up every single plant in a field. Time consuming and tiring, there must have been an easier way?

Consequently, air eradication with herbicides became rather popular. In as little as ten days after spraying, the plants are stripped bare of their leaves and within around 70 days, the plant will be completely dead. RIP, indeed.


US-sponsored Plan Colombia was, to effect, an aerial fumigation of this country – the second most ecologically diverse in the world. Spraying caused poisoning and environmental damage.
Herbicides have been linked to diarrhoea, hair loss and skin rashes on children. Also, legal crops like bananas, coffee and pineapples are often destroyed along with the coca plant. Yes, we have no bananas. Not quite the lycra and rippling muscles the US had envisaged.

In Afghanistan, post the US-led invasion, local and international troops are enlisted in eradicating poppy crops – as are schoolchildren in some provinces. This is dangerous work.
Imagine you’re a farmer who’s invested cash and time in a poppy field. How would you feel if you saw it being literally stamped out? Might make you want to protect your only chance of making a living. Where’s that gun that’s been lying around since the war?

Further problems arise as more coca plants and poppies are eradicated. Demand for the drug remains constant (or grows) while there are fewer crops, resulting in the existing crops becoming more lucrative.
More farmers then begin to grow the plant to take advantage of the price increase. What a conundrum!