asked Her Majesty's Government:
What discussions they have had with the Governments of Colombia and Ecuador about the environmental and health effects on the rural population of the aerial spraying of herbicides on coca fields; and [HL6653]
What research they have commissioned on the effectiveness of aerial spraying as a method of reducing the volume of coca produced; and whether they have had discussions with other Governments about alternative methods.[HL6654]
The UK provided £200,000 in 2003-04 to the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) to co-fund an independent internal survey aimed at assessingthe environmental and human health effects of using glyphosate to eradicate coca crops in Colombia. The survey's findings were published in April 2005 and can be found at www.cicad.oas.org/Desarrollo_ Alternativo/ENG/Projects%20By%20Country/Colombia/OAS% 20Panel%20Report%20Final.pdf.
The UK is committed to assisting Governments in Latin America to tackle the production of and trade in illicit drugs. As such, we have regular discussions with all Governments in the region, including Colombia and Ecuador, and with other international partners about strategies for countering the activities of those involved in the illicit drugs trade. As part of that assistance, we have contributed £100,000 to the development of an alternative livelihood programme in Bolivia. The UK does not assist with aerial spraying and it has not therefore been necessary to discuss the environmental and health effects of aerial spraying with any Government in the region. We none the less recognise the right of the Colombian authorities to take whatever steps they deem necessary, as part of a wide range of activities, to counter the production of illicit drugs.