Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: DEVELOPMENT OF BIOLOGICALLY BASED CONTROL METHODOLOGIES FOR WEEDS IN AGRICULTURAL AND NATURAL AREAS Title: Apparent Effects of Glyphosate on Alkaloid Production in Coca Plants Grown in Colombia

Authors
item Casale, John - US DEPT. OF JUSTICE DEA
item Lydon, John

Submitted to: Forensic Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: November 11, 2006
Publication Date: May 1, 2007
Citation: Casale, J., Lydon, J. 2007. Apparent effects of glyphosate on alkaloid production in coca plants grown in colombia. Journal of Forensic Science. 52:573-578.

Interpretive Summary: Leaves from cocaine-producing coca plants grown in Colombia, South America were analyzed for their alkaloid content. Leaves from six field sites reported to have been sprayed with herbicide contained extremely low levels of cocaine. In addition, alkaloids not previously reported from coca plants were detected in the herbicide-treated tissue. Based on the existence of an ongoing program to control cocaine-producing coca plants using the herbicide glyphosate, it appears that alkaloid metabolism in coca plants is altered by glyphosate. The analytical data presented will be of value to forensic chemists that encounter illicit cocaine preparations containing alkaloids produced from coca plants treated with glyphosate.

Technical Abstract: During the routine analysis of coca leaf material from South America, alkaloids in Erythroxylum coca var. ipadu leaf samples from fields suspected of being treated with glyphosate were compared with those from non-treated E. coca var. ipadu and Erythroxylum novogranatense var. novogranatense plants. Normal levels of cocaine were detected in leaf tissue from non-treated plants, whereas leaves from treated plants were nearly devoid of cocaine. Further analysis demonstrated the presence of several previously undescribed N-nortropane alkaloids, several of which were tentatively identified. The results suggest that applications of glyphosate to coca plants can have dramatic effects on the quantity and quality of alkaloids produced by surviving or subsequent leaves. The analytical data presented will be of value to forensic chemists that encounter illicit cocaine preparations containing alkaloids produced from coca plants treated with glyphosate.

Last Modified: 11/27/2014