Kabul rejects US pleas to spray opium poppies

Renewed American efforts to persuade the Afghan government to use crop dusters against poppy production have failed, despite Washington dispatching a top scientist to advocate the safety of spraying herbicides.Charles Helling met representatives of the Afghan ministries of counter-narcotics, health, and rural rehabilitation on Sunday to discuss fears over the side effects of glyphosate, one of the most effective methods for the mass eradication of opium poppies. Kabul, however, remained unconvinced.

“We have rejected the spraying of poppy in Afghanistan for good reasons: the effect on the environment, other smaller crops and on human genetics,” the acting minister for counter-narcotics, General Khodaidad (who uses only one name), told the Guardian. “It was a very friendly discussion, but it is difficult to change our mind,” he added.

The US maintains that the herbicide is safe for the environment and the local population. It says the misgivings of the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, are based on myth and Taliban disinformation.

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