excerpt from below :
"Bigwood: I was there as a consultant to the Ecuadorian government's environment ministry to demonstrate the concerns associated with spraying chemical herbicides. My expenses were paid by a Soros grant. I put that money to good use; I documented the toxicity of some of these chemicals and wrote a scientific review for the Drug Policy Alliance."
the whole thing is at this link:
3. DRCNet Interview: Jeremy Bigwood on Colombia's Borders
Jeremy Bigwood is an independent investigator, journalist and photographer who has covered Latin America since 1976. His work has received funding from the John T. and Catherine P. MacArthur Foundation and the Open Society Institute, among others. Bigwood has done extensive research on chemical herbicides, including mycoherbicides in the context of coca eradication programs. In February, Bigwood was a technical advisor to the Ecuadorian delegation at a tripartite meeting between Colombia, Ecuador and the United States, to establish a "buffer zone" along the Colombia-Ecuador border where spraying to eradicate Colombian coca crops would be banned. DRCNet spoke with Bigwood about the meeting and about instability on Colombia's eastern border with Venezuela.
Week Online: What were the talks about?
Jeremy Bigwood: They were meetings about setting up a buffer zone between Colombia and Ecuador. There would be a belt of Colombian territory extending inward from the border where the Colombian government would not be allowed to spray any chemical herbicides as part of its coca eradication program. Only manual eradication would be permitted. There is a dispute over the width of the buffer zone -- Ecuador wants a 10 kilometer buffer, but Colombia offered three. During that meeting, the head of the Colombian National Police offered eight to 10 kilometers, so there is some movement, but still no agreement.
WOL: Who was at this meeting?
Bigwood: The US had Richard Baca, in charge of the State Department's Colombia Narcotics Affairs Section. The Colombian government had fairly broad representation, including police and health officials. The Ecuadorians had representatives from the ministry of agriculture and livestock, the ministry of the environment, and the national police.
WOL: What was your role at the meetings?
Bigwood: I was there as a consultant to the Ecuadorian government's environment ministry to demonstrate the concerns associated with spraying chemical herbicides. My expenses were paid by a Soros grant. I put that money to good use; I documented the toxicity of some of these chemicals and wrote a scientific review for the Drug Policy Alliance. I supported the Ecuadorian call for the buffer zone on ecological grounds. The US and Colombia are frequently changing the formulations they use when they spray, and none of these formulations have been tested in tropical regions like northern Ecuador. We based our concern on the scientific literature about the ingredients we knew were being applied in these herbicides. Those ingredients were toxic to aquatic life, including fish, and various things found in the soil, such as fungi and nematodes. For that reason, Ecuador wanted this area where chemical herbicides would not be sprayed. We did not talk about the issue of damage to human beings, because we have no hard evidence, so our argument was based solely on damage to the ecology. Until there is testing of these compounds in these conditions, Ecuador wants that buffer zone.
WOL: Will they get it?
Bigwood: Both the US and Colombia have agreed in principle,