7 August 2011
Source: Cool Earth
Around 450 acres (180 hectares) of Brazilian rainforest were discovered defoliated by potent herbicides dropped from planes, according to IBAMA, Brazil's environmental law enforcement agency.
Although a a relatively new phenomenon in the Amazon, it is causing concern to IBAMA investigator - Cicero Furtado. The USA were accused of using Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, defoliating huge areas of Asian forests. This action was later blamed for hundreds of thousands of deaths and deformities.
"The herbicide was stored in inappropriate location, hidden in the woods and would be sprayed in the forest with the use of aircraft," said Furtado.
According to IBAMA, if used improperly, these chemicals can cause serious damage to the environment such as pollution of groundwater, loss of biological diversity in soil, killing animals and insects, among others.
The affected area was first detected by Brazil's deforestation monitoring system, then confirmed by helicopter overflight. IBAM also discovered nearly four tons of chemicals hidden along the trans-Amazon highway 174, enough to defoliate roughly 7,000 acres (3,000 ha) of forest ready to be cleared for cattle ranching or agriculture.