Parliamentary question by Marco Cappato (NI) to the Commission and to the Council and answer given by Mr Patten on behalf of the Commission




WRITTEN QUESTION E-0677/03 and E-0676/03
by Marco Cappato (NI) to the Commission and to the Council
(26 February 2003)

Subject: Fumigation in certain coffee-growing areas of Colombia


Whilst I was visiting Colombia last week together with the Secretary of the International Anti-Prohibitionist League, Marco Perduca, a number of reports were received about a plan for the imminent fumigation of the coffee-growing areas of Colombia, in the context of a disastrous and indiscriminate campaign of chemical fumigation, from a very high altitude, of vast areas of the country, designed to eradicate coca leaf production and to be carried out in agreement with the US Administration.
In view of the devastating impact of this practice on human health, the environment and socio-economic equilibrium, and the fact that the Commission is carrying out alternative development programmes in some of these areas, has it taken steps to inform the Colombian authorities of its disapproval and the need to suspend immediately the alternative development programmes in those areas as soon as the operation is launched?
How does the Commission intend to try and ensure that the fumigation is not carried out and officially request that the operation be suspended all over Colombia?

E-0677/03EN
Answer given by Mr Patten
on behalf of the Commission
(7 April 2003)


The Commission does not support the aerial spraying of illegal crops in Colombia.

The Commission has obtained a political commitment from the Colombian Government that the areas covered by its alternative development projects (that foresee voluntary manual eradication) be exempt from fumigation. The Commission also discusses this issue with the United States’ Government, and follows closely developments on the ground.

This position derives in particular from the Commission’s view on aerial spraying in the Union, which is that in the future it should be restricted as far as possible, if not banned completely. In its Communication 'Towards a Thematic Strategy on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides' , the Commission proposes a general ban on aerial spraying, with specific derogation to be authorised by Member States if aerial spraying presents clear advantages and also environmental benefits compared to other spraying methods. This is due to the impact that spray-drift from aerial spraying of pesticides may have on human health and the environment, as well as its possible socio-economic impact, notably on non-targeted areas, inhabited areas, and water.