It fell from the sky

February 26, 2005

Once again it appears our government is spraying for weeds. This time its in Afganistan. From Athenian at Dkos, we get this catch:

Afghans Accuse U.S. of Secret Spraying to Kill Poppies

By CARLOTTA GALL

Published: February 27, 2005

KANAI, Afghanistan – Abdullah, a black-turbaned shepherd, said he was watching over his sheep one night in early February when he heard a plane pass low overhead three times. By morning his eyes were so swollen he could not open them and the sheep around him were dying in convulsions.

Although farmers had noticed a white powder on their crops, they cut grass and clover for their animals and picked spinach to eat anyway. Within hours the animals were severely ill, people here said, and the villagers complained of fevers, skin rashes and bloody diarrhea. The children were particularly affected. A week later, the crops – wheat, vegetables and poppies – were dying, and a dozen dead animals, including newborn lambs, lay tossed in a heap.

The incident on Feb. 3 has left the herders of sheep and goats in this remote mountain area in Helmand Province deeply angered and suspicious. They are convinced that someone is surreptitiously spraying their lands or dusting them with chemicals, presumably in a clandestine effort to eradicate Afghanistan’s bumper poppy crop, the world’s leading source of opium.

The incident in Kanai was not the first time that Afghan villagers – or Afghan government officials – had complained of what they suspected was nighttime spraying. In November, villagers in Nimla, in Nangarhar Province, said their fields, too, had been laced with chemicals when a plane passed overhead several times during the night.

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One option considered by American officials last year was to rent civilian planes and spray the general weed killer Roundup over the provinces of Helmand and Badakhshan, two of the largest producers of poppies in the country, according to one official familiar with the plan.

Which once again gives me a chance to link to what I consider the best article ever about the spraying in Centreal America. Read it, and then read the New York Times article again. Notice any similarities?

The health problems that Sister Carmen sees, and the horror stories she hears, are the result of whole valleys in Colombia — and, almost certainly, across the border in Ecuador — being sprayed with chemicals that, in the U.S., even pets and farm animals aren’t supposed to be allowed near. One of them is a variant of Roundup, a weed-killer available at your local Home Depot. The other is a Colombian product not even listed or tested by U.S. health authorities.

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The big losers in Plan Colombia were the farmers of Putumayo — regardless of whether they grew coca or yucca and beans. Despite assurances from the U.S. State Department that spraying would be a precision operation used only on coca fields of more than seven acres, thousands of people with small family farms were sprayed as well, got sick, and were ultimately displaced by the spraying. Many farmers complained that their animals were dying and their food crops were poisoned. Some said the old people and babies in their villages have died after the crop-dusting planes delivered their poisons.

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Those warnings proved to be much closer to the truth than Brownfield’s assessment when actual results in Colombia were examined. Complaints from campesinos and indigenous people led to two health and environmental studies, carried out in Colombia’s Putumayo department and Ecuador’s adjacent Sucumbios province shortly after Plan Colombia spraying began. The Colombian study, done by biologist Elsa Nivia between February and April of 2001, indicated that more than 4,000 people in Putumayo were suffering from acute eye irritation, respiratory problems, heart arrhythmias, skin lesions and rashes, temporary paralysis and temporary blindness, among other health problems. Additionally, thousands of animals had died, and the vast majority of area food crops were destroyed.

So instead of helping third world economies rise up out of poverty, our government fucks with their governments to get economic advantage and, then when the people get so desperate they have to turn to growing illegal drugs, the government poisons their land, water and everything else. Fucking wonderful. U.S.A. U.S.A.

And for some insight on the chemicals and the companies that make them, here is an old post on the subject.

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2 Responses to “It fell from the sky”


  1. This is good stuff…funny how this never gets any mainstream media coverage. We’ve got a real policy problem in Afghanistan – do we support the current government’s stability by not spraying opium, or do we try to eradicate opium and piss everyone off?

    Also, remember back in like April 2001 Bush gave the Taliban $43 million because of the progress they had made in eradicating opium production? Not many people know that, cause the press never covered how BushCo was a big supporter of the Taliban…

    Of course, the end-game is that we don’t give a fuck who gets poisoned as long as the new oil pipeline is secure – great, huh? I really feel sorry for those people…

    The Bloogeyman

  2. anna Says:

    bloogeyman nails it. i remember that payout to the taliban, IIRC the houston chronicle had a huge article about the eradication of poppies under the taliban.

    and now afghanistan is back on top – w00t! we’re number one!!! oh wait… er, number one in opium exports. not really something to be real proud of, IMO.


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