Health Canada’s affirmation of  the safety of  the herbicide Glyphosate  upsets Aloy and Christie!
Posted on January 14th, 2019

by Chandre Dharmawardana, Canada.

I thank the Lankaweb editor for publishing a  note about the recent unanimous re-affirmation of the
safety of the herbicide glyphosate by a team of 20 Canadian scientists. See: http://www.lankaweb.com/news/items/2019/01/12/health-canada-concludes-new-review-of-glyphosate-herbicide/

When this news item appeared in the Lankaweb, two commentators responded to it. I felt that those comments should be responded to in this manner, as a short article,  rather than in the response format as the  issues brought up  by Aloy” and by Christie” are likely to the shared by other readers too. Hence they merit  a detailed answer. Furthermore, every scientist who is knowledgeable on these topics must regard it as his/her solemn duty to bring out the facts, and squash  myths widely held by  some segments of the public,  in order to safeguard Sri Lanka’s  march towards agricultural self-sufficiency and environmental sustainability.

This news item is of prime interest  as  Sri Lanka was the only country in the world to impose a total ban on the herbicide although it if often falsely claimed that other countries have banned it (http://dh-web.org/green/NatuNewsFake.html ).

The ban was  based on the false claim that the herbicide is a likely cause of the kidney disease that has began to plague Sri Lanka’s NCP  since the early 1990s. The ban was imposed in January 2105 by President Sirisena at the behest of Ven. Rathana, although the National Academy of Sciences in Sri Lanka and other learned societies  had opposed such a ban. I myself have written articles on this topic since 2012 when fake science  was presented to the Nation, with a pretence that  it  is based on revelations from God Natha himself.

The ban was reversed in July 2018 due to the collapse of the tea market, the collapse of the cultivation of Indian corn (Bada Iringu”) and other crops. Corn  is  an important economic enterprise for many small cultivators in large  parts of the country. The impending closure of teas estates implied a total loss to the ecosystem due to their irreversible conversion into housing and tourist conglomerates. The total loss to the country over the three years of  the ban is estimated to be around 50 billion in foreign exchange. It will be an up-hill task to recapture lost markets.

Alloy’s Questions.
Aloy states that :
(1) The population which is predominantly Sinhalese in the NCP area is depleting. And there are large number of CKDu cases there. First solve this problem”.
(2)  Then we can talk about the use of Glyphosate in other countries however small the traces in their systems.
(3) Till then let us eliminate agro chemicals one by one and revert to bio fertilizer.
(4) There was no CKDu in the olden days. It started after the uncontrolled use of agrochemicals.

Let us take Aloy’s point number (1).
Indeed, the kidney disease CKDu strikes any one living sufficiently long in certain villages in the NCP,
irrespective of whether they identify themselves as  Sinhalese or  Tamils. It also strikes people in areas like Mullativu (Mooladoova) where the population is predominantly Tamil speaking, and this is an area where agrochemicals have NEVER  been used  for various reasons.

Furthermore, domestic animals (dogs, cats), mice, rabbits and livestock (goats, cattle, pigs) who live in the same environment as the farmers who get CKDu do NOT contract this disease, although those animals are very susceptible, and are in fact used in laboratory research on this type of disease.

The animals drink water from  paddy fields (containing agrochemicals) and irrigation canals, but do NOT get sick. People who get sick do not drink  such water, but use their own dug wells. Scientists have found that these dug wells contain unacceptable amounts of fluoride of geological origin, together
with water hardness caused by the presence of magnesium and calcium salts in the water. Furthermore
scientists have shown that it is this combination of fluoride and hard water that causes CKDu. It has nothing to do with the use of agrochemicals.  This has been confirmed by feeding this water, as well as normal water to laboratory mice. Independently, the Kidney specialists at the Kandy Hospital have done research where they have examined the blood of CKDu patients using a research  technique  known as molecular-pathway analysis. They have shown that the patients all have pathway markers arising from the action of fluoride as well as viral infections. See their latest research report:
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/325399594_Transcriptome_analysis_supports_viral_infection_and_fluoride_toxicity_as_contributors_to_chronic_kidney_disease_of_unknown_etiology_CKDu_in_Sri_Lank

SO WE KNOW FAIRLY WELL WHAT CAUSES CKDu.
The solution for PREVENTING the disease is to provide clean water, so that the people do NOT  drink contaminated well water. Providing tanks to collect rain water has been tired out in the NCP  and worked well even during the past two years of drought. This costs a few cents a litre (cost of amortizing the tank) compared to Rs 1-3 per litre using imported reverse-osmosis plants that need electricity and  and expensive filtration membranes.

2. Alloy says Then we can talk about the use of Glyphosate in other countries however small the traces in their systems”.

No traces of glyphosate have been found in their systems”, if   Aloy is thinking about  CKDu patients. The WHO study found that 97% of the CKDu patients did not have any significant amounts of glyphosate. About 3% who seemed to have a few parts per billion glyphosate is a quantity  well within the statistical error of such investigations

3. Alloy says Till then let us eliminate agrochemicals one by one and revert to bio fertilizer”.

Till when?
Bio-fertilizers are also agrochemicals with another name.
Where is this bio fertilizer” available? Does Aloy know how much is needed? Does he know how much they cost? You need about a ton of bio fertilizer per Kg of mineral fertilizer to have the same effect in soils where fertilizer is needed. Also, biofertilzer costs much more. It is also not as healthy as touted by the organic-food supermarket chains.

What is the toxic contamination data for bio fertilizers”? Bio fertilizers often have as much or more metal toxins like Cadmium, As, etc., as conventional fertilizers, because the plants that went to make the bio-fertilizer accumulate these toxins from the soil. The soil naturally contains cadmium, and other metallic ore, as seen from Sri Lankan geological data. The traces found in the soil are accumulated by green plants (plants don’t have kidneys to flush out the toxins, and so they accumulate toxins in the plant. So straw has some 200 times more cadmium toxins than in the soil).

The total organic” food production using bio fertilizers in the whole world is less than 2% today, , even though  such organic” methods have existed since the 1920s in the West. It has existed  from time immemorial among rural people who eked out a subsistence  level of existence from such agriculture, feeding a much smaller population. It has been shown by many people including organic-farming researchers at the Swiss Institute,   that organic farming even if extensively adopted,  cannot feed even half the world population without extensive land use, land erosion and the deployment of vast amounts of water (see: https://dh-web.org/place.names/posts/CD-Mueller-OrganicL.pd ).
Just as private education (however  superior  it is) cannot replace free public education, the push for organic farming can only produce a two-tier food system that will  ultimately enfeeble the food supply of the less fortunate.

(4). Aloy says:
There was no CKDu in the olden days. It started after the uncontrolled use of agrochemicals”.

This is completely contrary to facts.
CKDu is not found everywhere agrochemicals are used .Paddy farming requires very little glyphosate (herbicide)  or mineral fertilizers compared to many other crops like tea or corn . CKDu  is found in certain NCP villages where the geology naturally has fluoride. The disease started only after the accelerated  Mahaweli program came into being, where people were settled hurriedly, and in higher ground away from agricultural tanks. As the water is too far, they dug their own household wells and drank water from them.
These were areas that were NOT populated in the old days, due to lack of water, and malaria.
In the old days people lived very close to Tanks and irrigation canals, and got their water from such sources and did not drink water containing fluorides. Although very small amounts of fluoride are  good for health (prevents dental carries etc.), fluoride  is toxic if the safe threshold is exceeded. This safe threshold is reduced in the presence of magnesium salts found in hard water, and makes hard well water containing fluoride the trigger of kidney disease.

Christie’s Question.
Now let us see what Christie, the second respondent had to say.  He says:
Looks like you had your daily dose. How is it now compared to old Monsanto.
Canada Health got nothing to do with us”.

Indeed, Canadian agricultural health has a LOT to do with Sri Lankan  food.  Most of the  lentils (parippu”), and significant amounts of chick peas, soya beans, Canola oil etc., that Sri Lankans consume originate in Canada, even when they are imported from an intermediate source like India.

Upper class Sri Lankan activists who mobilize” to fight” genetically modified foods (GMO foods) probably do not realize that their daily diet is implicitly made up of such GMO products, and that 80% of the nitrogen in their bodies have been produced using the Harber-Bosch process that has fed the world since the early 1900s.  People fail to understand that a major fraction of the food that feeds the 7.2 billion people of the world living today  in 195 countries of the world come from the agriculture of just a few  countries who are leaders  in industrial agriculture. That should not be so, especially for a country like Sri Lanka with abundant water,  fertile soil and a proud  agricultural past.

One Response to “Health Canada’s affirmation of  the safety of  the herbicide Glyphosate  upsets Aloy and Christie!”

  1. aloy Says:

    Sri Lanka (Sinhale, Serendipity, Serendib, Selao etc.) was known as the granary of the east in the ancient time.Our rice have been exported to Rome, not women to ME as slaves as it is happening today. This term could not have been coined if we did not have a healthy population in Rajarata who did not know how to farm and look after them from hazards in the environment. Ancient chronicles like Mahavansa which I have read from beginning to end does not mention any health problems that the population suffered. I remember it is stated somewhere that the Malayalese who found our well developed Ayurvedic system invaded Anuradhapura and stole all the books. And today Kerala (meaning land of coconuts) is the home of Ayurveda.

    Looking at the marvelous structures and irrigation systems in Rajarata I sometimes wonder where the descendants of those people who created them and remained in the country till our last king was banished, have gone. Today we do not have people to produce even a safety pin ( hetta katuwa) or a pencil in our country. Here I find Dr. Chandre haling from Canada and seemed to be completely brainwashed in their way of thinking telling us what we should do. No wonder people like him found their way to the top and become useful citizens in those countries.

    Dr. Chandre in this write up has given lot of new information. I thank him for that. I did not know Canada with a small population such as ours but with a land area nearly the size of a continent is one of the major exporters of genetically modified agricultural produce. I do not know from where Prima the company that now owns the grain silos that we constructed during Dr. Kulasinghe time, imports their wheat, but it cannot be GM. if so our people have a right to protest. As for Canola, I know people in other countries have found it to be toxic and some people do not use it. Whatever it is for Canada to produce large quantities of agricultural produce for third world countries such as ours they have to use weed killers like Glyphosate, but they take all precautions as specified by manufacturers. That does not mean that our country already with a major health problem in farming community should allow use of glyphosate or massive amount of agrochemicles.

    Another argument put forward by Dr. Chandre is that tests conducted on animals like rats do not indicate any adverse effects. Here is the problem. All the animals like Rats, pigs, goats etc. have a shorter life period than humans. A rats life may be couple years while that of a cow may be ten years. In Rajarata the affected farmers are all adults. So, it may be that these toxic materials should be in the body for a considerable time for it to cause CKDu. Moreover the the immune system in the animals may be quite different to those of humans. They can eat all sorts dirt but stay unaffected, but not humans. Clearest example is the pig.

    Couple of years ago I read an article based on research work done by four doctors in Ceylon Medical Journal. They had prepared a map based on GPS and indicated all the settlements in CKDu affected areas. They found that villages on the upper sides of the irrigation channels that were fed with Mahaweli waters did not have CKDU affected people, while those in the lower side of the channels had CKDu. The lower side people consumed water from the channel while those in the upper side consumed rain water or water from their wells. This was a significant find.

    Our politicos also want to make life easier for the estate workers by allowing glyphosate for weed killing. This is to get their votes. But by doing that they are killing the “Ceylon Tea” industry as the buys do not like if glyphosate is used. In any case tea industry is becoming non viable as the workers demand higher wages. It would be much better to move these Indians to other areas of economy like fishing, construction etc and give these land to the Sinhala peasants whose land were forcibly taken over by the colonials.
    Agricultural products produced with bio fertilizer has a high demand overseas. My brother who is a UK trained Industrial Micro biologist is involved in the manufacture of bio fertilizer for one such company. All their agricultural produce is for export. The facility he set up was producing 5000 tons per month. Foreign buyers will not spend extra for organic vegetables unless they are better.
    Finally, about Natha deviyo. Our knowledge about science may be just a drop in the ocean. We cannot say we know every thing. According to a famous Professor, whose TED talk I listened to recently, there may be infinite number of universes that are co existing: From nothingness (the Nirvana) to the universe that we try to explain with all the knowledge we currently hold such as Newtons and Einsteins theories including the quantum physics. For example can we explain how the animals withing the contours that flooded when tsunami struct in Sri lanka escaped unharmed or can we explain the beaching of whales in large numbers. There may be some truths in all these beliefs.

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