Lecture Focuses on the Risk of Using Herbicide to Control Illicit Plants in Latin America

April 23, 2007

by Frank Raczkiewicz

Dr. Keith Solomon, a professor of environmental biology at the University of Guelph in Ontario, will speak this Friday, April 27, at Baylor University about the ecological and human health risk of the use of glyphosate to control coca and poppy crops in Latin America. The lecture, which will be at 3:15 p.m. in the Baylor Sciences Building room C105, is free and open to the public.

For years, herbicides have been sprayed to control the production of illicit crops in Latin America. However, before the herbicides are sprayed, risk assessments are taken to study the potential risk to human health, terrestrial invertebrates and aquatic organisms. Based on toxicity of the active ingredient and the spray mixture to mammals, risks to humans were judged to be low to negligible. Furthermore, an epidemiology study conducted showed no increased risk of adverse reproductive outcomes and sampling of surface waters showed infrequent and small contamination only in regions where eradication sprays of illicit crops were not being conducted.

Solomon's presentation will highlight some of the issues in conducting ecological and human health risk assessments with limited access to areas where herbicides are used. He also will discuss the risks from practices used by the growers of coca.

"This is an excellent opportunity for our students and faculty to hear a strikingly interdisciplinary seminar that bridges the environment human-health interface," said Dr. Bryan Brooks, an assistant professor of environmental and biomedical studies at Baylor who helped organize the lecture.

With more than 30 years of experience in research and teaching in pesticide science and environmental toxicology, Solomon has contributed to more than 300 scientific publications in the fields of pesticides, environmental toxicology and risk assessment. He is a member of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, the American Chemistry Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Toxicology Forum. He is a recipient of the 1993 Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry-ABC Laboratories award for Environmental Education, was elected Fellow of the Academy of Toxicological Sciences, and is a recipient of the 2002 American Chemical Society International Award for Research. In 2006, he was awarded the SETAC Europe Environmental Education Award and the Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry Founders Award.

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