Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Rain Forest Being Lost to Coca Production

5.5 million acres of devastation.

The vice president of Columbia told a conference of police chiefs in Belfast that drug users in the United Kingdom were responsible for environmental catastrophe in his country.

Citing figures that claim roughly 500,000 acres of Columbian rain forest are decimated each year to make room for the production of coca, vice president Francisco Santos Calderon also claimed that drug gangs now use of land mines to protect their crops, resulting in the accidental maiming of rural Columbians. According to a BBC News report last month, the use of landmines has been described as “similar to a war zone.”

In remarks earlier this year reported in the U.K. Telegraph, Mr. Santos said: "This destruction of the rainforest for coca production and coca plantation has gone on under the radar of the environmentalists. We hope that this will be a wake-up call. We hope that the World Wildlife Fund and Greenpeace will start saying 'what is this?' "

Bill Hughes of the U.K.’s Serious Organized Crime Agency told the BBC that “not only is cocaine ripping the country apart through deforestation, landmines are creating amputees on a scale not recognized.” Moreover, drug operations frequently make us of banned pesticides, thereby endangering soil and water quality.

Over the past 20 years, according to vice president Santos, almost 5.5 million acres of rain forest have been sacrificed to cocaine production in “the world’s second most bio-diverse country.” He urged policymakers to consider such results as a major part of what Home Office Minister Vernon Croaker called the “real price” of cocaine use. According to Mr. Croaker, cocaine was the only drug in the U.K. to have shown an increase in consumption since 1998.

Cocaine remains more popular than marijuana in many areas of the U.K. However, the BBC also reports that the purity of imported cocaine is at its lowest ebb ever—as low as 10%, in some cases. According to Mr. Hughes, “This is being put together by seriously bad organized criminals; they don’t care what they are giving to people.”

Photo Credit: Telegraph.co.uk

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