Sunday, March 30, 2008

Snort coke, shaft the environment

Cocaine: Now with even more added guilt

Go to The Register original
Snorting cocaine is an environmental crime whatever your views on drug use, scientists declared last week.

A panel of scientists meeting at the Natural History Museum in London last week detailed how the production of the drug and its trafficking affect biodiversity and contribute to climate change.

The production of a gram of cocaine means the destruction of four square metres of Colombian forest, they said, raising the question of which supermodels, popstars and city types should be lined up with hummer drivers and big game hunters in the environmental most-wanted stakes.

Colombia is one of the most biodiverse countries in the planet, and also the biggest cocaine producer. Bad combination.
Cocaine production is a threat to environment is all its stages, said Liliana Davalos, lecturer in Molecular Ecology at the Open University, UK. The first step of the cycle is the destruction of forest to plant coca. Every year, 100 thousand hectares of Colombian forest is destroyed for this end. The plantations also use tons of herbicides that are forbidden in many other countries. Since the UK is one of the world’s largest consumption markets for cocaine, it makes concerns about organic tomatoes and pesticides seem futile.

Then, the coca leaves must be soaked in solvents to release their psychotropic substances. Every year, 20 million litres of acetone, 13 million litres of gasoline and 81 thousand litres of sulphuric acid are used in this process and then thrown away, untreated, in rivers and water streams.


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