Evidence regarding glyphosate use and the incidence of kidney diseases
Posted on April 22nd, 2018

It is progress that scientists, including two eminent physicians, have taken up, again, the case against glyphosate. Bhikkhusangha taken in general, and Bhikkhu Ratana in particular, do not have the tool kit which qualifies them to make decisions in these matters. Earlier, certain other scientists had taken up the case for glyphosate. Somethings belong mostly in religion and others mostly in natural philosophy, the circles intersecting each other only in the higher regions. The present case for and against glyphosate, the way I recall it, rests on epidemiological studies. Glyphosate has been used widely as a weedkiller for some time in tea plantations. Why has there been no evidence of the incidence of kidney diseases among the populations in tea plantations? Does not manufactured tea carry residue of the herbicide? India grows tea on a scale far larger than we and do they not use glyphosate? If they do, what is the incidence of kidney disease there? As Mahaveli flows from the hills, first west and then north east and as the incidence of kidney diseases is most prevalent in the lower reaches of the river basin (in Area H in the Mahaveli project), why do not those waters carrying the toxic material from the plantations cause the sickness all the way down, including lands above Bowatenne? Do cultivators in Area C watered by Maduru Oya and in the Gal Oya valley use glyphosate with any intensity to kill weeds and why is there no hue and cry about kidney diseases there? Both NWP and Hambantota are major rice growing areas and if the cultivators there use glyphosate to kill weeds and one does not hear panic from there, how does one explain the difference? What are the differences in incidence? And if the incidence of the disease is location specific, is that not, prima facie, evidence that there is something separate from and perhaps in addition to glyphosate that may be responsible for the affliction? Should not the regression equation now have another variable and with different results?

In addition to the epidemiological studies, have there been studies by bio-chemists on the reaction of glyphosate with body chemicals to understand how chemicals in glyphosate react with other chemicals in the body? Is there a minimum amount of glyphosate that the body can absorb without causing irreparable damage to kidneys? Or is glyphosate in the minutest quantities toxic to humans?Is there any evidence that other creatures, both large and small, that share this environment are similarly ill-affected?

As you must have guessed easily, I am no scientist. Economies exist for human welfare and not the other way round. If any activity to promote the economy is as dangerous to human life as some scientists, including physicians allege, it is wise to act on the ‘precautionary principle’and avoid the use of glyphosate, while some others work in the lab and in hospitals to find for us the evidence beyond a high correlation coefficient, which, after all, provides only of evidence of association of two sets of data and not causation, which latter is what we are after, especially so when the data for the study of correlation may may be wonky. My uninformed guess is that these other studies are not beyond the financial capacity of plantations to bear nor beyond the mental equipment with our scientists to undertake. (Incidentally, there is no such word as ‘weedicide’ in the dictionary, but there are both ‘weedkiller’ and ‘herbicide’.)



One Response to “Evidence regarding glyphosate use and the incidence of kidney diseases”

  1. Cerberus Says:

    Mr. Usvatte-aratchi, not sure if you have seen the following scholarly articles by Dr. Jayasumana and others.


    Also see below:
    I do not know why some people are so keen to introduce poisons into our soil and land. These poisons get into the water table, into the food that is consumed and then affect the health of those who consume these products. Today in the West which countries were using these products liberally, people are so sick. There is an opioid epidemic due to people taking opioids to relieve body pains. If the object is to increase tea prices, believe me it will not happen !!

    In case of tea see the original report from the Tea Research Institute of Sri Lanka. Tea prices worldwide have fallen due to various reasons – no one in the world mentions non-use of Glyphosate as the reason for fallen tea prices.
    Using Glyphosate will result in tea plants also getting eventually killed off, as well as farmers lower down from Upcountry terrain getting sick, plus any crops grown in lower downhill areas also absorbing the deadly Glyphosate from run off water made unhealthy for human consumption.

    Some facts :
    – Mechanisation of tea plucking will certainly cut costs as one tea plucking machine will replace 4 workers.
    – The greatest tea drinking country in the world, the UK, has now turned to coffee, and away from the pub !
    – Indonesia now imports tea, inspite of being the 7th largest tea producer.
    – Kenya has over production of tea.

    Glyphosate kills the tea plant itself after some time. – http://archives.dailynews.lk/2004/06/24/fea05.html

    Also, read the following articles as to why tea prices are falling.

    Black Tea Prices Falling | World Tea News – http://worldteanews.com/news/black-tea-prices-falling

    Tea stocks perk up, but experts remain cautious – The Economic Times – https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/markets/stocks/news/tea-stocks-perk-up-but-experts-remain-cautious/articleshow/56437587.cms

    Tea Consumption in the United Kingdom Show Steep Decline – The Atlantic – https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/02/great-britain-tea-decline/463452/

    Tea Industry Indonesia Update: Falling Production & Export – https://www.indonesia-investments.com/news/news-columns/tea-industry-indonesia-update-falling-production-export/item7381?

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