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Last Updated:10/05/01
Speech by Rep. Janice D. Schakowsky (D-Illinois), July 24, 2001
Mr. Chairman, in February I had an opportunity to go to Colombia along with the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. MCGOVERN), and we met with all 12 mayors from Putumayo; and they had one message, please stop the fumigation.

The next day we went along with Ambassador Anne Patterson to Putumayo, and we met with impoverished farmers whose legal crops had been destroyed by U.S. fumigation planes. We heard from Colombians whose children suffered from severe rashes after being sprayed.

Mr. Chairman, after the birth of my granddaughter yesterday, I am particularly sensitive to the picture of the baby shown by the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. CONYERS), and the problems caused to children. I saw some of those children.

It was reported to us that local drinking water sources were contaminated from fumigation, as were fish farms. This testimony was news to Ambassador Patterson, who agreed that more research on the human health effects of the fumigation is needed.

So many of those suffering under our policy are the poor, working families not involved in the coca trade. Those who admitted to us that they grew coca also had compelling arguments for a different strategy to eradicate the crop. They informed us that their plots were sprayed, and they would simply move into the jungle, damaging more fragile habitat, and still producing the product. Others said they would continue to grow coca because Colombian and U.S. government promises to provide alternative development and support and food aid yielded no results.

All of the democratically elected mayors from the southern region came to Washington, and they said, Let us use manual eradication, as we have done in Peru in order to successfully get rid of coca. They want to get rid of coca, too, but they want support for economic development and alternatives without the coca.

The gentleman from Michigan (Mr. CONYERS) mentioned Monsanto's Roundup. On the label it says when used in the United States, ``It is a violation of Federal law to use this product in any manner inconsistent with its labeling. Do not apply the product in a way that will contact workers or other persons, either directly or through drift. Only protected handlers may be in the area during application.''

Entire communities have been sprayed in Colombia. We see livestock, we see crops, we see water, we see children being sprayed. It is time for us to end this policy.

Mr. Chairman, even one of the companies that benefits from Roundup, ICI, a British chemical company, announced 2 weeks ago it would no longer supply one of the ingredients to the chemical herbicide because, ``it did not wish to be responsible for damage to humans, animals or the ecology of southern Colombia.'' If it is good enough for this company that wants to profit, it ought to be good enough for this Congress to say no more fumigation.

As of October 3, 2001, this document was also available online at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/B?r107:@FIELD(FLD003+h)+@FIELD(DDATE+20010724)
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