A former member of Colombia’s anti-narcotics police who suffered from Parkinson’s disease was euthanized Monday after years of exposure to glyphosate sprays in cocoa fields.
Sergeant Gilberto Avila, 59 years old and heavily paralyzed, met this end of life in a medical institution in Armenia (central-west), one of his relatives told AFP.
“I don’t want glyphosate to kill lives like mine,” Guiberto Avila said in a video sent to the media last week in which he made his decision public.
In the 1990s, he participated in several sprayings of cocoa-growing areas using this herbicide, the basic component of cocaine. “We had to protect the ground so that the criminals didn’t attack the planes and helicopters … the chemicals were falling on us,” he said.
He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2009.
“It’s more likely to have been caused by glyphosate,” as two other colleagues have fallen ill. We are subject to the same prevalence conditions,” he said.
Scientific studies warn that long-term exposure to this herbicide is a “risk factor” for developing Parkinson’s disease.
Coca-growing communities have reported deficiencies following spraying.
Colombia, the world’s largest exporter of cocaine, stopped spraying medicinal crops with glyphosate in 2015 over suspicions that the product could harm health and the environment.
Colombia decriminalized euthanasia for terminally ill patients in 1997 and last year extended the right to people suffering from “serious physical or psychological suffering” from an injury or incurable disease.