- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 23, 2001

Commentary columnists F. Andy Messing and Patrick J. Oswald are correct in stating that cultivating and processing drug crops cause extensive damage to forests, soils, rivers and air quality (“Greening of the drug war,” June 20). The authors, however, mistakenly argue that the crop eradication strategy pursued in Colombia will “reverse this negative process.”

Eradication is accelerating environmental decay. In the past five years, Colombia´s farmers have planted more than 1 hectare of coca for each of the 115,000-odd hectares destroyed in aerial spraying campaigns, indicating that the coca frontier and the pollution associated with it are expanding ever farther into the Amazonian jungle.

This unfortunate cycle is likely to continue unless farmers find economically attractive alternatives to coca or until world demand for cocaine now estimated at 500 tons or more annually is reduced substantially.



Rensselaer Lee consults in international security issues and is co-author with Patrick Clawson of “The Andean Cocaine Industry.”

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