“Whole-some agriculture” for a “toxin-free nation” ?
Posted on March 10th, 2016

By Chandre Dharmawardana, Ottawa, Canada.

The President unveiled a three-year program put forward by the  agriculture minister,  promising a toxin free nation” based on ”wholesome agriculture”. The minsters as well as Ven. Ratana are acting with what they believe are the best interests of the people. That modern agriculture” is responsible for an alleged  deterioration of public health is a common belief  among  the more affluent concerned individuals”  all over the world, and not just in Sri Lanka. This is often coupled with  proposals to return to  traditional ways” of doing things, and opposing genetically modified foods at all costs”!

What are the most important toxins consumed by the public? The very day that the  Toxin-free nation” was heralded, a newspaper reports that  Mountain-Dew” has been approved for Sri Lanka. We already have Coke, Pepsi, etc., and local carbonated drinks, all containing  at least five table spoons of sugar per cup! They contain high amounts of phosphates and other additives.   Sugar  is a major toxin that causes innumerable illnesses like diabetes, cardio-vascular diseases, cancer, allergies etc. But no one is ready to ban  sugar. It is traditional” to consume whole-fat buffalo curd and palm treacle” and  other traditional” Sri Lankan deserts based on treacle. In ancient times, ordinary people lived at subsistence level and ate  rich food rarely. Thus  corpulence and a big belly, known as a ping bandiya”  were signs of aristocratic bearing and high status!

Another class of ubiquitous toxins is spewed all over the country by diesel and motor engines and even by kerosene cookers.  These are class-I carcinogens in the World Health Organization list, i.e.,  they definitely cause cancer.  These toxins accumulate in the fatty layers of the body and cause chronic diseases. But we use the largest fraction of the national income to import these toxins and vehicles, instead of using electric vehicles and trains. We are even going  to use coal-fired power in this toxin-free nation” and please the Indians who sell coal!

Having spent millions for  petroleum and vehicles, we create huge traffic jams on highly polluted roads. The people in these vehicles and outside breath the fuel tainted-air while in  traffic jams. They become impatient and generate adrenaline, an anger hormone that shuts off insulin and pumps up the blood sugar. Even those who only drink  plain tea and Kola-Kaenda (leafy-broth)  eventually get their diabetes from the traffic, even without sugar!  The minister’s plan to create a Toxin-free nation” ends right inside his super-luxury Mercedes Benz!

Even  the tobacco industry accepts that tobacco and even second-hand smoke are  class-I carcinogens.  Shouldn’t one ban tobacco outright,  and destroy the tobacco plantations? Instead we  put  horror-show pictures on cigarette cartons  and sell  them with ghoulish glee to collect big taxes!  Some five trillion tobacco butts saturated with toxin are tossed out the world over annually,, and Sri Lanka’s contribution per head is outstanding!

It is not only cigarette butts that are thrown out with such little thought. What happens to the flash-light batteries (torch” batteries), used batteries as well as old  cell phones, computers, toys, watches, hearing aids, fluorescent bulbs,  medical gadgets and a myriad other electronic devices? What about dead computers and monitors, TV sets printers etc? They are ultimately tossed into the garbage. But they contain Cadmium, lead, gallium, indium, antimony, arsenic, mercury, transformer oils,  old paint cans, and a whole host of dangerous toxins. All used up batteries, dead computers and dead electronic equipment, unused paint etc should be returned to the seller who should arrange for the technically correct disposal at the wholesale ware house.  Until then, you can forget about a Toxin free nation”.

The English invader opened taverns in every village in the late 19th century to subdue  the natives”. The natives had observed temperance or consumed weak-alcoholic drinks like toddy. But today, taverns have been replaced by ubiquitous drinking holes and night clubs. They sell not just alcohol, but narcotics and  mind-altering Crystal-meth, K2, Spice, Flakka etc. The country is awash with such toxins. So an intoxicated nation” talks of  getting rid of agro-chemicals” while drunkenly hitting at an imagined  fly when  it is  already  in the tiger’s mouth.

It is easy to blame agro-chemicals”, and Big Business than cut off  sugar, petroleum, alcohol, tobacco, and drugs.  However, do we have a case for cutting agro-chemicals? Agro-chemicals are most used  in the mono-culture of the tea plantations where the soil has become acidic enough to have a pH of five!  However, we are importing artificial fertilizer and exporting tea;  and it makes some sense as long as it makes a clear profit, employs people, and makes no one sick. No one has found significant levels of toxins like Cadmium, Lead  or Arsenic in tea, although tea uses the same fertilizers and herbicides (like glyphosate)  as used for vegetables and paddy. But eventually nothing  will  grow in such abused soil.

Ven. Ratana’s campaign was triggered by the rise of chronic kidney disease of unknown origin (CKDU) in the Rajarata. The irresponsible Naatha-Deiyyo myth”, put out by a so-called Dean” of science who claims that science is in fact an unmitigated fraud, claimed that the Rajarata is poisoned by Arsenic from imported fertilizers”.  CKDU was identified around 1992 and the number of patients has steadily increased.  Doctors and scientists have not been able to unequivocally  link CKDU to known medical causes, or agro-chemicals, petrochemicals, geological or other contaminants.   However, they have proved that there is no toxic arsenic in the Rajarata water, soil or food. It has also been tentatively identified that residents who consume house-hold well water (rather than flowing water in canals, rivers or water from reservoirs) contract the disease, and programs to provide clean water have been launched.

Chemical analyses of the soil, water and food  have NOT revealed any relevant toxins  from agrochemicals. An outcry against the herbicide glyphosate has been created, but the presence of green algae in tanks, rivers and even in shallow wells shows that even traces of the herbicide glyphosate are absent. Yet  the herbicide has been banned  by the Sirisena government, the only government in the world that has heeded such  hysteria (first launched in California!). Canada reviewed its Glyphsate policy recently  and re-confirmed its release as a very safe herbicide. The European food safety agency concluded that even a daily intake of 39 mg by an ordinary person (70 kg weight) would be a safe maximum. A very instructive discussion of glyphosate and agor-chemicals may be found in the TV-Ontario  broadcast:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pE_vjC0z-z4

The claim that imported fertilizers” contain dangerous  toxins like arsenic, cadmium, etc., has been rejected by the import controllers. The locally produced Eppawala phosphate  has more arsenic ( 23-27 parts/million of arsenic) than the  maximum allowed limits (MAL).  If the final concentration of, say arsenic, in the soil AFTER the fertilizer is spread  is less than the MAL, then the so-called contaminated”  fertilizer can be safely used. The public does not often realize that the environment naturally contains a certain amount of toxins and that is one reason why we have MALs.

Organic fertilizers made by repeated composting of leaves can have  dangerous amounts of metal toxins like Cd and As as plants bio-accumulate them.  The ancients solved this by chena cultivation” where the plantation is moved from place to place and used large amounts of water for weed control. Such  practices are no longer possible in a densely populated country. Even in ancient times the county lurched from one famine to another, and even the writing of the Buddhist scriptures at Alu Vihara was prompted by the fear that even the monks will be exterminated by the famine that had prevailed in the country. There has has been an occasion when Sri Lanka exported some rice recorded in the historical records, but most of  the time feeding the people had been a struggle. Today we have largely acquired self-sufficiency in food, but the policies of this government will rapidly destroy our capacity to feed our people.

The Dadabbha Jathaka  tells of a hare hit by a falling fruit. The hare cries that the earth at its end, the sky is falling, and starts a stampede of animals.  But a lion halts them, and investigates the cause of the panic. The Jathaka story  teaches the need  for rational  investigation. The Toxin-free Nation” policy directed at agro-chemicals under the anusaashana” of Venerable Ratana is an effort that  misses the major toxins affecting the public. It is not the traces of agro-chemicals that even chemists find hard to detect, but the tankers  of petrochemicals burned in the country, the kilos of sugar burnt in the body, the alcohol, drugs tobacco and meat that are freely consumed  that poison us.

By Chandre Dharmawardana, Ottawa, Canada.

 [The author was instrumental in launching the first food chemistry programs in  Sri Lanka,, four decades ago, at Vidyodaya University. Today it is known as the Sri Jayawardenapura University, and boasts of a full-fledged department of food science and food technology.]

11 Responses to “ “Whole-some agriculture” for a “toxin-free nation” ?”

  1. Cerberus Says:

    Dr. Dharmawardena, I am not sure how you decided that only Sri Lanka has banned Glyphosate. There are many countries which have banned Glyphosate outright and the WHO has issued a warning that Glyphosate can cause cancer. Please see the link below.


  2. Fran Diaz Says:

    We wonder where Killi Mahendran’s stock of tonnes of Glyphosate are … ?
    Does anyone know ?

  3. Dham Says:

    Probably stored in the luxury bunker under Presidential palace and being released slowly to goviralas by gamarala.

  4. Fran Diaz Says:

    Alien’s tryst with Glyphosate !

    An Earthling walking home on a moonlit night
    Chanced upon an Alien looking for a snack lite
    “Your thigh and leg are perfect’ said he
    And caught our poor Earthling ere he could flee

    After many hours the Eathling stumbled home
    Swearing never far from home he would roam
    “Honey” he called to his wife so scared
    “An Alien ate my thigh and leg bared”

    His wife took a look at the poor man’s legs
    And said : ‘Both your legs are there, my poor pet’
    ‘I told you not to take that wilderness hooch
    Last time you did, you thought I was the pooch’ !

    Our Alient friend went home to XYZee Planet Two
    His stomach was turning and face was blue
    His Alien wife was at the their home gate
    She said ‘I can see that Earth hooch had Glyphosate’ !

    So both Earthling & Alien swore for evermore
    No more Glyphosate hooch from the forest store
    We tell our friends on a more serious note
    Take care and throw out that pro-Glyphosate vote !

  5. Senevirath Says:

    පොහොර සමාගම් රකිමින් අධර්මය වර්ධනය කරන්න එපා .ලින් වතුර බොන යටත් විස එන්නේ පොලොව යටින්ම තමය් බටහිර විද්‍යාත්මක නිශ පාදන නොරක්කොත් මේ යට රකියාවලුත් නැහැ

  6. Senevirath Says:

    හොඳය් පොහොර සමාගම් වල හා කෘමිනාශක වලත් පොහොරවලත් ඔය කියන දේවල් නතය් සිතමු . එහෙත් මෙයා කියන අනිත්නරක දේවල් සියල්ලම ආවේ බටහිර විද්‍යාත්මක නිෂ්පාදනනිසානේ උන්ගේ දැනුම චාම් ජීවිත විනාශ කළා බටහිරයන්ගේ දියුණුව රකින්න අධර්ම ය වර්ධනය කලයුතුය්

  7. Dham Says:

    Glyphosate ban and MSG ban are unbelievably brave decisions taken by President Sirisena. It somehow goes against the western interests.

    It is not easy to manage the implementation of ban on MSG, as most processed food including most sauces, even like simple Soya Sauces have been poisoned sing MSG ( Ajinomoto, E621 are other names).

    It is very doubtful how these bans can be implemented with the current government structure which can’t even ban “killing human beings”. Nevertheless these are the types of decisions we need to take if we want to win against Tamil Terrorism.

  8. Nalin DeSilva Says:

    Dr Dharmawardena, I think you are mistaken about the Glyphosate, see below articles. Even WHO has declared it a carcinogen.


  9. Senevirath Says:

    නලින් කිව්ව වෙබ් සයිට් බැලුවද හලෝ – අධර්මවර්ධන

  10. Dham Says:

    I don’t think writer is not aware of those reports. People who fought against have been killed by the producers of poison. All these are in the internet. Media is manipulated by them and fight against this type of terrorism is not easy.

    He is simply ignoring those.

    I am also suspicious of his continuing support of Glyphosate. Not only Glyphosate but there are many other products including GM foods designed to kill human beings.

    Writing against Monsanto ( Glyphosate father company) have become dangerous.

    It appears like Monsanto even set up web sites to attract writers who are against them to later arrange assassination of those.


  11. Cerberus Says:

    Please also see this news item on the following link.


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