A former police officer with long-term exposure to glyphosate was euthanized in Colombia

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Hilberto Avila, 59, with paralysis over a large part of his body, underwent the operation to end his life at a medical center in Armenia (central west), a relative told AFP.

A former member of the Colombian police’s narcotics unit, who suffered from Parkinson’s, was euthanized on Monday after years of exposure to glyphosate aerial spraying of coca fields.

Hilberto Avila, 59, with paralysis over a large part of his body, underwent the operation to end his life at a medical center in Armenia (central west), a relative told AFP.

“I don’t want glyphosate to continue destroying lives like mine,” said Gilberto Avila in a video he sent to media last week announcing his decision.

In the 1990s, he had been involved in aerial spraying of coca crops, the plant whose leaves are the basis of cocaine, with this herbicide. “We had to guard the field so that the planes and helicopters wouldn’t hit criminals (…) the chemicals were falling on us,” he said.

He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2009.

There is “a strong possibility that it is due to glyphosate, as two other colleagues are also ill. We had suffered the same conditions,” he added.

Scientific studies have warned that prolonged exposure to this pesticide is a “risk factor” for the onset of Parkinson’s disease.

Communities of coca growers, coca growers, have also reported deformities due to aerial spraying.

Colombia, the world’s top cocaine exporter, suspended glyphosate spraying on coca crops in 2015 over concerns that the chemical is harmful to health and the environment.

Colombia decriminalized euthanasia for terminally ill patients in 1997 and, last year, extended this right to people suffering from “painful physical or psychological conditions” due to injuries or terminal illnesses.

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