Banning Gyphosate – A Time Bomb  to sky-rocket the price of produce for the coming elections?
Posted on May 28th, 2015

Chandre Dharmawardana, Ottawa, Canada

The president has naively banned the well-known herbicide (Glyphosate) pivotal to the productivity and  survival  of Sri Lanka’s agricultural sector. He has been led  to believe that the ban would stop the epidemic of kidney disease in the Rajarata.  The resultant sky-rocketing of the price of food items and the disarray in the plantation sector  will hit the Sirisena government just in time for the next elections.

A small group of individuals associated with a lady who claims psychic powers, and a number of Kelaniya University Dons  seem to have usurped the powers bestowed upon the President’s  Pesticide Advisory Committee (PAC).  The Kelaniya group has  exploited the hysteria and public incomprehension  caused by a recent WHO reclassification of Gyphosate as a probable carcinogen under heavy exposure, classifying it with many common detergents and disinfectants.  The word probable” has been applied in regard to Glyphosate, while definite carcinogenicity has been attributed to Cloves and Citronella oil at even lower exposure.

No evidence for  causing Kidney disease by Glyphosate has been recognized by any recognized scientific organization.

The WHO report led to a flurry of activity all over the world where the governments requested their expert advisers  to recommend what should be done. In every country the advisory boards recommended that the WHO reclassification is a technical correction that does not affect accepted practice, and that no changes are necessary.  Prof. Jean McLaughlin, one of the authors of the WHO-report adverse to Glyphosate expressly stated  concurrence with this in a public TV discussion.

However, in Sri Lanka, the expert committee does not seem to have been consulted. The committee comprises 15 members selected  from relevant institutions like the Department of Agriculture, Ministry of Health, Govt. Analyst’s Department, Research Institutes for Tea, Rubber and Coconut, The Standards Institute, Environmental Ministry, Commissioner of Labour and  nominees of the Ministry of Agriculture. According to press reports, the Kelaniya group had met with the President and got the ban clinched (http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=125352 ).

The  Kelaniya  Group and their JHU friends have been agitating to ban the import of fertilizers and pesticides, claiming that they are toxic, contain Arsenic,  and have unleashed an epidemic of Kidney disease in the North-Central Province. This view is not held by other experts or members of the PAC. The previous government was also pressurized by the Kelaniya  group, but after hesitation, the Rajapaksa government introduced a limited ban in just the CKDU-affected  regions, during the heat of the election campaign in Dec 2014. The PAC as well as those who understand the plantation sector had prevailed on the  government that the Tea, Rubber, Coconut as well as paddy and vegetables production would simply disappear if this herbicide, and the inorganic fertilizers were banned. There is simply no supply of organic fertilizers” or  manual  labour for hand weeding that can meet the requirements.

As most scientists have argued, there is an imparative need for reducing the amounts of agro-chemicals used. Modern ideas about creating a healthy soil goes well beyond just applying fertilizers and pesticides to the crops. The soil itself is a complex ecology that must be be nourished using the latest ideas on symbiosis of organisms, nitrogen fixation and soil hydrology. Composting to make organic manure” at the scale needed is just not possible as compost pits are notorious for releasing methane, carbon dioxide and other green house gases. Traditional varieties of seeds demand a lot of water, take longer to mature, and it is pie in the sky to believe that we can proceed towards a more enlightened form of agricultural practice by simply banning the existing practices by decree. And that too, for the wrong reason of fighting CKDU.

What should be done to stop the kidney disease in the Rajarata?

The key to stopping this disease is the provision of clean drinking water to the Residents of the Affected Areas (RAA). Our research has suggested that the accumulation of salts in the drinking-water wells used by the RAA  is a very likely cause of kidney disease, where the ionicity of the water acts to cause slow deterioration of the kidney layers. Of course, any discussion of causes assumes that the subjects are otherwise comparable with respect to life styles, diet etc.  In fact, residents who drink water from natural springs or municipal water in Anuradhapura, and having similar health problems, diets  and life styles do not contract Kidney disease. Hence most other proposed causes, multi-factorial or otherwise,  cannot be sustained, and the available analytical data also eliminate almost all of these  proposed causes.

Prof. Sunil Jayalath has recently written to the Island newspaper  (Island, May 26th, 2015) claiming that delivering water using Reverse Osmosis (RO) plants is the way to go, while criticizing the use of rainwater. He proposes taking water from rivers and irrigation canals to  remove  the pollutants. The clean” part of the water  is sold as drinking water, while the polluted part is put back into the river. In our view, and based on available analytical-chemistry data, most of the steam water and irrigation canal water are not polluted and suitable for drinking without RO if filtered and boiled. There are perhaps short unsuitable periods  of the year when the run-off from agricultural lands  increases the level of phosphates, fluorides  etc., in the water.

It is the sustained use of water from ground wells which is,  in our view  responsible for CKDU. The well water  in many affected areas is high in electrical conductivity. This arises from dissolved salts.

Prof. Jayalath’s arguments would be more persuasive if he would give typical chemical-analysis data for the levels of pollutants found in the water that his RO units are taking in, and putting out. He has so far presented none. Furthermore, Rajarata people have a tradition of using rain water wisely, and such water is eminently drinkable if filtered and boiled, because most of the uncleanness” in rain water is likely to be bacterial. The main short coming of rain water is its low hardness, and this can be corrected easily and cheaply.  Furthermore, rain water can be collected  in large plastic or galvanized tanks,  or in earthenware or  masonry tanks, and these are not expensive!

What has all this and Kidney disease got to do with Glyphosate? In fact, nothing at all. Is it possible that the Kelaniya Group which includes Dr. Nalin de Silva, no friend of the Sirisena government, has hatched an excellent political trap for the Yahapalanaya” by leading Sirisena into a huge boruwala” (pit-fall)? Poetic justice will be served when the price of rice, coconuts  and vegetables rises steeply, while the Tea and Rubber markets grind to a halt.

4 Responses to “Banning Gyphosate – A Time Bomb  to sky-rocket the price of produce for the coming elections?”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    I don’t know who to trust in this CKD debate while people keep dying.

    Shame on you Maru Sira if you let down your Polonnaruwa people.

  2. Fran Diaz Says:

    Questions to ask :
    * Someone had written to the L’web earlier that during President Premadasa’s time the qualified agricultral field officers were removed and the job given to unqualified SSC (GCE O Level) qualified youth. The CKD troubles had started to increase rapidly at that time. It is therefore possible that excessive use of fertilisers, herbicides & pesticides contributed to the rise of CKD ?
    * There are other countries where large numbers of farming people suffer from CKD. Perhaps all these countries ought to get together and compare some notes ?
    * In the meantime, how much Glyphosate does GoSL have in stock ?
    * Also, when will every province get clean drinking water through installation of the Reverse Osmosis process ? This seems to be the only sure way to counter the CKD speading even further.

  3. Independent Says:

    I saw a news somewhere that they have already imported sufficient poison for 10 years and now only it is properly banned. Don’t know how true.
    MR also banned 2 years ago and then disbanded again. It will be disbanded again once PAGA is delivered to people in charge. Some research will appear proving it is good for even drinking. It is a matter of time.
    When I first commented on someone’s writing on this I was banned.
    This is how powerful are the Monsanto and Jews ruining this world.

  4. Christie Says:

    Namaste: From Canada with love, a chemical that is used under controlled conditions by registered uses in Canada and the US. We are a dumping ground for these agro chemicals that are banned or used under strictly controlled conditions. What is good for Canada is not good for us. Why don’t you put your submissions to Canadian authorities to use Glyphosate variants in the same way they are used here. I don’t know where our Glyphosate is coming from and what variants they are? I believe some Glyphosates have heavy metals in them and are prohibited. You know better than be this chemical is a controversial one in the West and the developed world. If it is so good why not have a bit in your breakfast cereal in the morning or use it in your garden. But then you will be using the products used in Canada not the ones sold here. Jai hind

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