Glyphosate: poisoning the globe continues
Glyphosate is everywhere. Since 1974, when Monsanto patented this active substance and sold it in its broad-spectrum herbicide Roundup, hundreds of millions of tonnes have been sprayed all over the world - with far-reaching consequences for the soil, people and animals. Glyphosate is not only the most important ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, the best-selling herbicide worldwide, but is also contained in many other pesticides. Moreover, it accumulates in the groundwater, rivers and lakes and has been shown to be present in human blood and cow’s milk (see our earlier report). In March, a study by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) was published in the specialist medical journal The Lancet. It concluded that Glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic”. It states that Roundup can cause, for example, lymph gland cancer and lung cancer in humans. The WHO responded by categorizing Glyphosate in its risk potential as “a probable or possible carcinogen”.
Germany’s Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) passes the buck to the EU
Although the re-evaluation of Glyphosate by the BfR was originally planned for 2012, it was postponed until 2015. At the beginning of April it declared its assessment was concluded, without however having taken detailed account of the new categorization by the WHO of this active substance as "probably carcinogenic". In the opinion of Harald Ebner, an expert in genetic engineering and Glyphosate and a member of the Green Party in the Bundestag, this is scandalous and irresponsible. The BfR and the federal government had stated that the categorization by the WHO agency for cancer research (IARC) would be thoroughly examined. According to Ebner, the fact is that on the subject of Glyphosate “they are surreptitiously trying to dodge the issue of responsibility.” He demands that “until the suspicion of causing cancer has been scientifically disproved, Glyphosate must be taken off the market. Above all, there must be an immediate ban on sales to private users in DIY stores and garden centres.” Over 70 products containing Glyphosat are permitted in Germany and over 40 are sold to hobby gardeners.
BUND poster opposing Roundup that contains Glyphosate and is used by many hobby gardeners. Photo Kai Kreuzer
Assessment by the EFSA, that is reputed to be in the pocket of the genetic engineering lobby
Ebner criticises the German risk assessment authority BfR - responsible for re-assessing Glyphosate to approve its continued use in the whole of the EU - for not implementing the precautionary principle. Many critical environmental organizations regard the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), to which the BfR has submitted its report, as having been subverted by the genetic engineering industry. Genetic engineering expert Christoph Then warned, for example, in the autumn of 2014: “The risk assessment of the EFSA is too one-sided in taking account of the interests of the industry; they make a case for safety when really reliable data are not in fact available.” (see our earlier report). In this context, it is particularly irresponsible to leave the assessment to the EFSA. “This is not acceptable,” Ebner declared.
Situation in the USA even more acute
In the USA the situation is even worse where the use of the herbicide Enlist Duo produced by Dow Agrosciences is on the rise (probably because Monsanto’s Roundup has now got a bad reputation after many critical reports and campaigns - ed.). Since the autumn this pesticide, that contains 2,4-D as well as Glyphosate, has been given approval for use in nine more federal states. A report by the internet service TestBiotec states: “This herbicide is known on account of its use as a constituent part of Agent Orange in the Vietnam war.”
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – comparable to the EFSA – issued the authorization of the herbicide. Adopting a similar strategy to Monsanto, Dow sells genetically modified maize and soya seed together with the poison. With this combination, the corporation wants to control the problem that many farmers in the USA are now facing, namely that weeds have become immune to the duo that has been predominantly used so far – Monsanto-Gentec seed and Roundup. The result has been super weeds that little can be done to combat. Dow is now promising farmers that it has the remedy.
Agri industry in the USA with high chemical use. Photo Karin Heinze
The environmental organization Environmental Working Group (EWG) considers the wide-ranging approval of Enlist Duo to be a fatal mistake. Both active ingredients, Glyphosate and 2,4-D, could increase the risk of humans developing malignant Non-Hodgkin lymphoma – a disease of the lymph system. They maintain that this has been shown by scientific investigations. Scott Faber from the EWG says that the authority is subjecting farmers, their workers and people living in rural area to an increased risk of cancer. Poisoning our planet on a global scale is continuing – that’s a scandal beyond comprehension!
Picture: Intensive, high-production agriculture in the USA has taken its toll. The input of Roundup has given rise to resistant super weeds.
More articles on Glyphosate
Login for subscribers