Saturday, June 17, 2006

Good news

In an attempt to promote legal uses for cocaine, Bolivia has opened the first of two factories for developing coca products. Partially funded by Venezuala, the hope for this initiative seems to be to cut down on coca funneled to illicit use & abuse by coming up with legal ways to profit off of it:

Morales rose in politics as the leader of Bolivia's coca farmers and part of his anti-drug policy is to encourage licit uses for coca -- the plant used to make cocaine, which is also revered by Andean peoples for its medicinal properties.

"Manufacturing coca (products) doesn't do any harm because coca isn't a drug," Morales told hundreds of coca farmers gathered in a stadium in the town of Irupana, in the Yungas region 85 miles from La Paz. The event was broadcast on state television.

This seems like good news because it's a much more sensible approach than those generally taken by the US in foreign producers--such as Bolivia and Colombia. The defoliating slash-and-burn technique is devastating on the peoples of the region in a number of ways. There's an economic impact that hurts the farmers growing the coca more than the cartels, leaving the farmers more dependent on the cartels for income than before; there's also the human impact measured by how unhealthy high levels of extended exposure to many of these chemicals can be; and there's also the impact of attacking a foodstuff essential to the diets of most Andean peoples.

Coca, you see, is also a fairly nutritious plant. And it also plays an adaptive role in the Andes, helping people to endure hard labor and extended travel in high altitude conditions.

Just some food for thought.

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