While it has been proven that spraying defoliant on coca fields has no other impact than actually stimulating production in wider areas, the dangerous pesticides involved (a beefed-up version of the commercially available "Round-Up" by the Monsanto Corporation) destroys legal crops, poisons the water supply, contaminates local populations and affects the fragile Amazonian eco-system in ways that we are only beginning to understand. These fumigations are conducted in Colombia by the U.S. defense contractor "Dyncorp", a supposedly private corporation that answers to the U.S. government just as any regular army branch but without any oversight by the U.S. Congress. Even though this policy has proven useless and

even counter-productive, it still provides a substantial income to Monsanto and to Dyncorp, a corporation with many ties to the U.S. military and power establishment. The official position of the U.S. State Department is that defoliation is safe, however, this same position was also taken by the Pentagon when Agent Orange was being spread in Vietnam. In 1991, the U.S. military eventually acknowledged the toxicity of agent orange and started compensating U.S. Vietnam veterans (though not the local populations) that had been exposed to the spraying. Independent studies have already pinpointed the long-term health and environmental impacts of the chemicals being sprayed in Colombia.