CANNABIS CULTURE – South Africa´s police helicopters are spraying toxic glyphosate herbicide along the country´s biodirvesity sensitive Atlantic Wild Coast to kill Cannabis (Marijuana) drug crop farmed by poor communities, a watchdog ecologist says.
Dr. Dereck Berliner, an independent ecologist and one of South Africa´s most known biodirvesity experts explains to this reporter: “It is 2018 and police helicopters are at it again, spraying toxic Kilo Max herbicide to kill illegal cannabis fields along the Wild Coast. This war on environment puts poor communities’ health at grave risk.”
For a start, the Wild Coast, is a stretch of South Africa´s Eastern Cape province along the Indian Ocean. It is birthplace to luminary South African citizens like Nelson Mandela. Crucially, the Wild Coast coastal forests carries some of the world´s most precious plant and bird ecosystems. It is home to over 1000 tree and grass species that science has not discovered in the past, says Vanessa Black of Earthlife Africa, a South African based chapter of the global lobby Earthlife.
The Wild Coast is loosely referred as South Africa´s “Marijuana cultivation capital.”
However, the picture square Wild Coast also forms the belt of South Africa´s poorest province. South Africa´s Human Research Council told this reporter that the Wild Coast tribal inhabitants are blighted by lack of proper schools, loss of vital skills, homes headed by elderly women, inadequate clinics and roads that are impassable in rain season.
So, thousands of local inhabitants grow Marijuana to replenish family diets, pay school fees or treat sick animals, says Narend Singh, a law maker in South Africa´s parliament who is fighting to have dagga legalized for medical purposes.
“In the Wild Coast, dagga plants are mixed with home-made compost and water to make the yield denser and the leaf stronger. At ($150) per kilogram in local merchant markets, dagga brings more than food to family tables,” he says.
This innovation in poverty puts communities at war with the South Africa Police Service who take advantage of the Wild Coast remoteness to mount air raids on community Marijuana fields.
According to Dr. Berliner, the deathly problem is this: police are using a herbicide called Kilo Max to kill Marijuana fields. This Genetic Modified Herbicide was created by Monsanto to kill weeds and plants. It contains glyphosate ingredient – which is considered toxic that the European Union, Sri Lanka and Brazil have banned it, according to an Ecowatch report in 2016. http://www.ecowatch.com/eu-bans-glyphosate-co-formulant-monsanto-1917259116.html
“This toxic herbicide is infecting food crops in the area, ruining soil, making poor farmers and families dependent on Monsanto chemical fertilizers and herbicides forever,” Dr. Berliner tells his reporter. “Police must end their obsession with Marijuana.”
The spokesperson for South Africa national Police, Brigadier. Hangwani Muladzi denies these accusations. “We don’t endanger rural communities. The amount of Kilo Max herbicide sprayed by our helicopters is so tiny that it only kills the dagga plant and vanishes afterwards.”
“This is misleading,” fumes Dr. Berliner the ecologist. “GM glyphosate is tough herbicide. It staggers and stays in local biodiversity like water, soil and diet crops like maize. This has a deadly effect on local food eco-systems.”
Ray Mwareya is an international journalist and winner of the UN Correspondents Association Media Prize.