Sri Lanka to relax glyphosate weedicide ban: report
Posted on September 20th, 2016

Courtesy ECONOMYNEXT

– A ban on glyphosate, a widely used weedicide, imposed on the belief that it may contribute to chronic kidney disease will be relaxed to allow the tea farming sector to use it, a report said.

Plantations Minister Navin Dissanayake had told Sri Lanka’s Planters’ Association, a groping of senior managers of tea farms, that the ban will be relaxed, The Sunday Times newspaper reported.

The tea sector will be allowed to import glysophate, following discussions with President Maithripala, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and related parties, the report said.

Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena banned the import of glysophate, after a theory was put forward that it was responsible for chronic kidney disease in mostly rice growing areas in the country.

However no animal studies were done to prove the theory, which the researchers said was because Sri Lanka was a country where most were followers of Bhuddism.

There have been no reports of tea workers being affected by kidney disease in a large scale in Sri Lanka yet. Factors including heat stress, dehydration in combination with mis-use of agricultural chemicals have been linked to the disease in other countries.

Similar chronic kidney diseases whose origin remains a mystery have cropped up in Andra Pradesh, some Central American countries and Egypt.

A World Health Organization arm that looks at cancer has said in 2015 that glysophate wasprobably carcinogenic (category 2B substance) to humans, along with malathion which is sprayed in households in Sri Lanka to kill mosquitoes, following an animal study which found links, though other studies have given mixed results.

However glysophate has become widely used. (Colombo/Sept19/2016 – Update II)

2 Responses to “Sri Lanka to relax glyphosate weedicide ban: report”

  1. Fran Diaz Says:

    Almost all Herbicides (Weedicides) are harmful to people. The chemicals can be absorbed through the SKIN. Particularly in the case of paddy farmers who work with their feet in the waters of the paddy fields are susceptible to the poisons in the herbicides dissolved in water. Also, if paddy field workers put their hands into the waters in the paddy fields, the same thing can happen.

    Is it likely that in the Upcountry tea areas, when sprayed with herbicides such as Glyphosate, the herbicides can wash down into the paddy areas below and get into the water in the paddy fields. Once in the paddy fields, farmers whose skin is exposed to the water, will absorb the poisons into their skins.

    In countries like Japan, rice paddy farmers wear boots (silicone treated to prevent absorption) and gloves.

    We suggest that the GoSL give our rice paddy farmers of Lanka proper boots & gloves to protect them.

    The alternative is to use natural methods of weed control in the Upcountry vegetable patches. Crop rotation is one such method.
    Is heavy weed control spraying necessary in the tea areas ? In the tea estates I have walked about, the tea plants grow so closely together, no weeds can grow under tea plants due to lack of sunlight. Some weeds may grow on the bare earth between the lanes of tea, but tea pluckers do walk on these areas and they can hand weed ?
    This cannot be such a difficult problem to solve.

    At any rate, it is irresponsible of the Yahap govt to allow spraying of the Upcountry tea areas, saying that the tea workers are not having CKD. That is likely because they do not come into contact with the herbicide in water.

    Comments welcome.

  2. Dilrook Says:

    This is a disgrace and clearly another violation of the promises given to people before the 2015 presidential election. Possibly those who campaign for the removal of the ban on glyphosate are in the payroll of big agro-chemical importers. They are losing billions of rupees every year due to the ban.

    Glyphosate effects are not felt in the upcountry as the hardness of water is low there. But they affect Rajarata areas where hardness of water is high. Glyphosate stays in water for days if not weeks and it washes downstream.

    Glyphosate ban should not be lifted just to please very highly paid and overpaid Indian Tamil workers of big plantations at the expense of lives and kidneys of poor Sinhala farmers downstream. This will create ethnic tensions.

    Only the big plantation companies (that are running at loss) have demanded glyphosate ban be lifted. Let them go bankrupt. That will save the nation hundreds of millions of dollars, the nation’s water resource and food chain.

    Glyphosate is detected in tea, rice and other food consumed by people. In USA the maximum allowable limit of glyphosate in rice is 30mg per 1 kg of total. It is 2mg/kg for tea. However, the restriction in tea is not imposed by any country. Sri Lanka doesn’t test the glyphosate content of tea. They should be required to do so. That will create a demand from buyers for tea without glyphosate.

    Ultimately even the consumers (not just farmers) will be infected with ailments created by glyphosate in food.

    We appreciate the bold stand taken by Venerable Athuraliye Rathana Thero on the glyphosate matter (as well as his bold stand on war in Mavil Aru in 2006). It is great he could make it to parliament. It is a shame JO politicians have been unable to stand by the people on this life and death issue.

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