Campaigns to ban and phase out the chemical across the world intensify with major successes Dr Eva Sirinathsinghji

Could it be that the World Health Organisation’s classification of glyphosate as a ‘probable carcinogen’ (see [1] Glyphosate ‘Probably Carcinogenic to Humans’ Latest WHO Assessment, SiS 66) will be the final nail in the coffin for the world’s most popular herbicide and Monsanto’s flagship product.

Recent weeks have seen the intensification of campaigns to ban or remove the product as well as lawsuits being filed against Monsanto; in the US for false safety claims of glyphosate, and in China, for hiding toxicity studies from the public. (El Salvador has already banned the chemical though yet to be signed into law [2], while the Netherlands last year banned private sales [3]. Sri Lanka had a partial ban in place in regions most afflicted by chronic kidney disease that has been linked to glyphosate use (see later)).

People have known the truth for years. Industry and government regulators have conspired to bury copious evidence of toxicity for decades, and they feel to some extent vindicated by the latest WHO assessment (see [4] Glyphosate and Cancer, SiS 62) and [5] EU Regulators and Monsanto Exposed for Hiding Glyphosate Toxicity, SiS 51). More importantly, governments are finally beginning to take action.

Outright bans

Colombia has taken the lead, deciding to suspend aerial spraying of illegal coca as well as poppy plants, which is expected to come into effect in a few weeks’ time following a majority 7 to 1 vote for the ban by the National Narcotics Council [6]. The day before the ban, the Interamerican Association for Environmental Defence (AIDA) delivered 24 000 signatures to the Minister of Justice who also chairs the Narcotics Council to push for this decision [7].

Colombia had been employing US contractors to spray glyphosate for two decades, covering an estimated 1.6 million hectares of land. This spraying for the “war on drugs” has been ineffective in eradicating illegal cocaine production, but has instead caused rising illness in local communities, killing local crops and polluting land and water supplies. Indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities have borne the brunt of the fumigation programs, prompting protests against both coca production and glyphosate use that has been displacing people from ancestral lands [8]. Colombia is not alone.

Bermuda, the British overseas territory in the Atlantic also banned glyphosate imports with immediate effect following the WHO assessment, as announced by their Minister of Health, Jeanne Atherden, whose decision was supported by local farmers [9]. The Minister said she believes the “action we are taking today is prudent and in the best interests of a safe environment….Like any area of science, there are competing studies and a wealth of information on both sides of the argument…. I am satisfied that this action is warranted and we are committed to conducting an open and thorough investigation” [10].

Sri Lanka is the latest country to declare an outright ban. The decision follows the election of the new president, a farmer and previously the Health Minister, Maithripala Sirisena taking the decision due the epidemic of chronic kidney disease [11].The spread of kidney disease highlights the wide-ranging toxicity of glyphosate not limited to carcinogenicity. The country’s battle to ban the chemical precedes the WHO declaration, coming after studies by Sri Lankan researchers linked the chemical to hard water, heavy metal contaminants and glyphosate use (see [12] Sri Lanka Partially Bans Glyphosate for Deadly Kidney Disease Epidemic, SiS 62). This prompted an initial ban, which was later restricted to certain regions of the country following intense lobbying pressure. With the government paying for healthcare of over 25 000 residents and supplying them with fresh water, the latest decision for an outright ban could not come soon enough.

Read more: http://www.i-sis.org.uk/Fallout_from_WHO_Classification_of_Glyphosate_as_Probable_Carcinogen.php