Memorandum: Complaints of Birth Defects in Pasto

Report on Issues Related to the Aerial Eradication of Illicit Coca in Colombia
Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
December 2003


To:  File

From:  Susan Doman

Date:  November 17, 2003

Ref:  Complaints of Birth Defects in Pasto

During a public affairs outreach program in March in Pasto, Nari�o, Embassy Public Affairs officials heard of a doctor tracking birth defects at the Hospital Infantil Los Angeles that he attributed to exposure to glyphosate. I contacted the physician, Dr. Mauricio Tup�z, on April 8, 2003. He explained that he was following a few cases of birth defects and he had no idea what had caused them. He said he wondered if it could be glyphosate and he was hoping to get a grant to study the issue further. We discussed the available scientific literature, which he promised to review. He said he had no concerns about the spray program and was just curious if there could be a connection.

As part of the Embassy/GOC eradication and public health outreach program, representatives from the Colombian National Institute of Health conducted a workshop in Pasto on the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of pesticide intoxication from September 1 through 5, 2003. None of the 35 doctors and 32 technicians who attended the workshop expressed concern about birth defects and spray. The head of epidemiological monitoring for the Department of Health in Pasto, Dr. Juan Carlos Vera, confirmed that there was no concern among the medical community in Nari�o that the spray program caused health problems or birth defects.