Lifting the glyphosate ban
Posted on March 3rd, 2018

Editorial Courtesy The Island

The reported decision of the National Economic Council (NEC) to lift the ban on glyphosate, a weedicide that was widely used in this country previously, though not yet officially communicated to those concerned nor formally gazetted will no doubt be widely welcomed, mostly by the tea industry. Plantation Industries Minister Navin Dissanayake went on record when the ill-advised ban was first imposed several months ago that he hoped to have it lifted. But he did not succeed in his endavour and the tea industry, beset by labour shortages that made expensive manual weeding near impossible, had to suffer production losses resulting in weed-choked fields. Given that tea prices were high in recent months, the national economy took a blow as a result.

President Maithripala Sirisena chairs the 10-member NEC which, according to reports published last week, had unanimously decided not to persist with the ban. The president, believed to have been influenced by a Buddhist monk National List parliamentarian, threw his weight behind the original decision to ban this popular weedicide. Coming as he does from the rice-growing Polonnaruwa district badly affected by CKDU, the chronic kidney disease, he cannot be blamed for his stand as there are grounds for suspicion, though not ironclad proof, that this disease is a result of ground water pollution by dangerous chemicals. Yet it must be said that the matters that the NEC considered at its last meeting on Feb. 22 should have been carefully examined before the ban was imposed rather than later. One newspaper quoted the NEC Secretary General saying that the glyphosate ban will be lifted on all crops other than rice. That is understandable given that the deadly kidney disease occurs mainly in the rice-growing areas of the dry zone.

This country is notorious for its history of taking ill considered decisions without adequately considering all the implications of such decisions. The cabinet government system long entrenched here includes cabinet papers making various proposals being distributed to all concerned ministries whose views are invited on such proposals before hard decisions are taken. Unfortunately, the deterioration of the quality of officials in the public service, a process that has continued over a large number of years, has deprived the system of quality advice that was once freely available as observations on cabinet papers. Sadly such observations today more reflect personal agendas, often of politicians, than the national interest.

It would also be relevant here to state that glyphosate was available in the market and was being used by some while the ban was in force. This is why it is necessary that government authorities consider whether a proper enforcement machine is available to ensure that leakages do not occur. Given the extent of human ingenuity and the profit incentives that drive greedy businessmen there are too many who can find ways and means of circumventing rules and regulations for their own advantage. If glyphosate, once the ban is lifted and imports resume, is useful for rice-growers there is a grave danger that stocks will reach the paddy sector too. The creaky government machine will be most likely be incapable of ensuring that the chemical is only available to and applied in sectors where the ban does not apply.

It is to the good that a National Economic Council, on which both the president and prime minister as well as many other senior ministers and officials sit, is looking at matters of vital concern to the economy including reversing wrong decisions like the glyphosate ban. In today’s world there is a great deal of information on scientific work that has been done which is easily and conveniently on tap. The Daily FT which last week broke the story of the glyphosate ban being lifted reported that the most recent risk assessment for glyphosate conducted by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in December last year had found that the chemical was not harmful to human health. The agency’s human health review had done in-depth work evaluating dietary, residential/non-occupational, aggregate and occupational exposure to the chemical.

Additionally the agency had performed a similar review of the glyphosate cancer database, including data from the epidemiological, animal carcinogenicity and gentoxicity studies and found no conclusive links to any ill effects. The US EPA findings are among the latest in a substantial body of scientific evidence – including a 2017 health survey by the US National Institute of Health which shows that glyphosate is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans and poses no other meaningful risk to human health when the product is used according to the pesticide label. These scientific findings are consistent with the conclusions of other scientific reviews done elsewhere, the newspaper reported.

What is relevant to us is whether all this information, which was probably available when the ban decision was taken, was properly evaluated before a prohibition that had various detrimental economic effects was slapped. It is also a lesson for the future.

7 Responses to “Lifting the glyphosate ban”

  1. Dilrook Says:

    Another wrong and panicky decision probably influenced by a very powerful lobby.

    Tea industry is destructive but made profit last year mainly due to higher tea prices. Glyphosate ban didn’t increase production cost or profit. This is a false allegation. A proper environmental assessment of the tea industry must be made at least now.

    The reduction in paddy supply was due to the lack of fertilizer subsidy, drought, neglect of paddy cultivation by the government and political kith and kin in rice import business. It has nothing to do with glyphosate ban.

    A timely article in Russia Today may be relevant.


  2. Fran Diaz Says:

    Glyphosate kills the tea plant itself after some time. Please see the article below.

    ‘Be cautious in using glyphosate for weed control in tea’
    by Dr. Kapila Prematilake
    Daily News, June 24, 2004

    (Senior Research Officer), Low Country Station, Tea Research Institute, Ratnapura and B.P. Ekanayake (Officer-in-Charge), Mid Country Station, Tea Research Institute, Hantana, Kandy.

    Glyphosate herbicide, when sprayed to the weed foliage gets translocated to all plant tissues and effectively kills the entire plant including rhizomes of perennial weeds. Ability of killing wide range of weeds makes Glyphosate one of the most versatile herbicides.

    Thus, most of the tea estates and smallholders heavily depend on glyphosate for weed control. Glyphosate (36% a.i.) is marketed in Sri Lanka under different trade names.

    Wilting tea plants

    However, indiscriminate use of glyphosate on tea lands has adversely affected health and productivity of the tea bush in the recent years. Furthermore, increasing levels of glyphosate residues have been reported in our tea exported to other countries.

    Glphosate was first introduced to tea cultivation in 1980s for the control of problem weeds such as Couch and Illuk grasses. Higher dosages of glyphosate (36%) at 11 and 5.5 litres in 600 of water per hectare were recommended to control Couch and Illuk grasses, respectively.

    Later in 1995, the lower rates of glyphosate i.e. 1.4-2.8 1/ha (0.25.5%) were recommended to control other weeds as well. From the inception TRI has recommended series of precautionary measures to be adopted when using glyphosate for weed control in tea.

    However, symptoms of discolouration, browning of leaves, wilting, twisting or curling of leaves have been observed as phtotoxic symptoms of glyphosate. Higher dosages of glyphosate could result in leaf fall, and sometimes death of the plant.

    In mature tea, damages are generally observed on peripheral shoots, which grow laterally at a lower height almost at the ground level. Symptoms of deformed leaves, development of multiple buds and formation of rosettes may appear about 4-5 weeks after application.

    Thus, the ultimate result of regular spraying of glyphosate is debilitation of the bush and decline in yield. Recent field investigations have also confirmed the debilitation and yield decline due to regular use of glyphosate (i.e 3.4 rounds per year) over a period of 4-year cycle (Table 1).

    Furthermore, regular use of glyphosate could result in glyphosate residues in made tea. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) the Maximum Residual Level (MRL) of glyphosate allowed in Black tea is 0.5 parts per million (ppm), i.e. 0.5 mg in one kg of black tea.

    When glyphosate is used in excess of 0.5% (>2.7 l/ha) on tea lands glyphosate residues have been detected until 14 days after application, whereas, glyphosate residues have not been detected in tea seven days after application when the rates are below 0.5%.

    Moreover, it is also well known that the use of a single herbicide can lead to development of resistance in weeds.

    In spite of the cautionary notes issued by the TRI, some estates and tea small holders are using glyphosate at rates higher than 0.5% i.e. about 3-4 l/ha/round 4-5 times a year.

    As a result of such deviation from the TRI recommendations for the use of glyphosate, stipulated in Circulars and Guidelines, a serious situation is being emerged in the tea industry. This may be attributed to lack of knowledge and awareness on safe use of herbicides, particularly of glyphosate.

    The majority of smallholders used to get improper advices from the salesmen of pesticide outlets.

    Even in the estate sector field staff and workers have not been properly educated on safe and effective methods of herbicide use.

    Therefore, it is necessary that the field staff and workers, who are directly engaged in herbicide application be educated in all aspects of chemical weed control, which covers phytotoxicity, mode of action, residue levels, persistency, dosages and rates of application of all recommended herbicides used for weed control in tea.

    Further, they should be educated on proper use of spray equipments, correct nozzles, spray guards and correct pressure of application.

    In order to minimize adverse effects and build up of residues in made tea it is recommended that number applications of glyphosate should be limited to two rounds per year for mature tea and it should not be used on young tea (up to first pruning) and first year after pruning.

    Though, Glyphosate is a total weed killer, some weeds such as Commelina, Hedyotis, Cyperus spp, Wedelia and Morning Glory are tolerant to Glyphosate.

    Therefore, it is not advisable to use glyphosate on these weeds and they should be controlled by cocktail mixtures of herbicides or by other methods. Today, the estates are compelled to practise chemical weeding due to the acute shortage of labour. The use of glyphosate in the estate sector is alarmingly high.

    Some estates are undergoing economic crisis due to lower NSA and lower profit margin with a low capital investment. As a result those estates are compelled to use a single herbicide like glyphosate to reduce cost of weeding.

    However, the adverse effects of improper use of this weedicide on tea fields overweigh the short term benefits such as reduction of cost of weeding.

    Therefore, it is extremely necessary to adhere to the recommendations of the TRI given in the form of advisory circulars, guidelines and precautionary notes.

    In this context, a lower dose of glyphosate could be used with a wetting agent or a surfactant available in the market or with Ammonium Sulphate, Urea of Kaolin for weed control in tea.

    Weeds that are not killed by glyphosate should be selectively controlled by other means of managing weeds such as manual or cultural method or with a cocktail mixture of weedicides as recommended by the TRI.

    Otherwise these weeds could become dominant and eventually a threat in tea cultivation. Finally, for an effective and sustainable weed management in tea, resorting to a minimum number of rounds of the same herbicide particularly glyphosate within a year in combination with other herbicides and practice of other manual, cultural and biological methods in rotation should meticulously be followed.

  3. Fran Diaz Says:

    The Present GoSL, by lifting the ban on Glyphosate, is doing a stupid and dangerous “Uda balagena Kela gahanawa” (looking up and spitting) – damaging its own Peoples food supply, and the projected worldwide image of the Country.

    Most leaders of countries are aware that Glyphosate used as a weed killer, is also absorbed by crop plants used for human consumption, now usually forced to be gene modified (extra expense) to withstand Glyphosate. Once these plants, whether gene modified or not, are consumed along with the absorbed Glyphosate, then the chemical will attack the gut flora in the human being. This will bring about various diseases as those people will not be able to digest their food properly. The Glyphosate active ingredients uses the Shikimate Pathway to kill the weeds, and will use the same Pathway present in the gut flora in human beings.

    It MUST be noted that Glyphosate has the capacity to kill weeds as well as any other plants it comes into contact. Tea plants in the Tea gardens will not be spared, given time.

  4. Cerberus Says:

    The best thing that My3 did during the last three years was to ban the Glyphosate. I really thought he understood farming and cared at least a little for our people. Now he has been pressured by the powerful lobbies to lift the ban. They were very keen to use Glyphosate in the Tea areas for the reason that it flows down into the rice paddies and affects the paddy farmers. If the Tea Planters Association headed by Rajadurai is really keen to increase Tea exports they should concentrate on growing Organic tea since more and more people are moving towards organic food world wide.

    Glyphosate kills plants by interfering with its metabolism and it remains in the plants and when humans and animals eat it then it interferes with the metabolism of these unfortunate creatures. There is a lot of information available on the internet on how Glyphosate acts. Glyphosate attacks the gut flora and fauna of all living things and slowly kills them.

    Here is a list of countries which have banned or restricted the use of Glyphosate. See:
    So why is Sri Lanka lifting the ban on Glyphosate? Who is going to benefit? Only the those who sell this poison will benefit.

    Please do not allow this lifting of the ban since in the long run, it will result in ill health for the masses mainly the Sinhalese. There are many who would like to see the Sinhalese and Buddhism eliminated from Sri Lanka. They all work in subtle ways. Please do not let them win.

  5. Cerberus Says:

    There is a group now taking Agribusiness to courts. See:

    TRIBUNAL CONCLUDES: Monsanto is a scientific fraud guilty of ecocide and crimes against humanity

    See the following:

    Stephanie Seneff, PhD, MIT CSAIL presents “The ‘SAFE’ Herbicide that’s making us all Sick!” Seneff’s three decades of scientific rigor is added to a growing body of independent research that exposes the toxic reality of America’s favorite weed killer and biocide; Monsanto’s RoundUp.

    Presented by The SHAKA Movement’s Christina Fisher & Seeds of Truth’s Melissa Yee

    Special Thanks to “The Five Citizens” – Mark Sheehan, Alika Atay, Lei’ohu Ryder, Dr. Bonnie Marsh & Dr. Lorrin Pang

    Contact Information:
    Email: – Stephanie Seneff, PhD on Glyphosate (RoundUp) Poisoning – Live to 110 Podcast #166 Glyphosate and How to Detox It with Dr. Stephanie Seneff – Glyphosate Pretending to be Glycine: Devastating Consequences – Stephanie Seneff, PhD
    Anthony Samsel/ Stephanie Seneff’s peer reviewed paper on Glyphosate, fifth volume, is out. In an interview with Tony Mitra, he lays out the proof how glyphosate as an analog (mimic) of glycine, gets picked up by our body and used by our RNA, mistakenly thinking it is glycine, to go into various parts of our biology and how, once it gets there, it creates malfunctioning proteins that become the trigger for illness and disease.
    The first part of the long interview is already put up at…
    This is the second part, comprising almost 38 minutes. It also includes, at the end segment, the five-minute talk on how the scientist got various vaccines tested for concentration of glyphosate and how he found the unwanted molecule to be present in many of the vaccines.
    This five-minute video has separately been put up at…, but is also included here as part of the whole interview.
    This second part, together with the first one, covers over one hour of interview. There is a third and last part yet to come. – Anthony Samsel on Glyphosate mimicking glycine, part 2

    Dr. Thierry Vrain, former genetic engineer and soil biologist with Agriculture Canada, spoke with us today about his concerns with genetically engineered crops (GMOs) and more importantly, the use of Glyphosate (RoundUp). Dr. Vrain’s background in the field of genetic engineering (for 30 years), makes him an expert on this gene technology. He explained how a cell is genetically engineered and what happens after this random insertion process through a gene gun and how it can have unknown effects.

    Since leaving Agriculture Canada 12 years ago, he has learned much more about the process of genetic engineering and the BT process (insect resistant) and the HT (herbicide resistant) crops that make up about 500 million acres. His primary concern at this time is the widespread use of Glyphosate which is a powerful herbicide, mineral chelator and a patented antibiotic. Dr. Vrain stated when speaking about Glyphosate:

    “It’s almost as if the entire population of North American is on a low-grade antibiotic diet day in day out from birth, every day, so this is the reality.” – Dr. Thierry Vrain, Former Pro-GMO Scientist, Speaks Up Against Glyphosate

    Study after study is showing up these days that tell us that Monsanto’s Roundup is causing cancer and other extremely severe neurological defects. Monsanto adamantly denies all of these charges, but they cannot deny the reality of science. Ring of Fire’s Farron Cousins discusses this with attorney Howard Nations. – Monsanto Trying to Cover Up Deadly Health Risks of Roundup – The Ring Of Fire

    To learn more about the Monsanto Roundup litigation, visit…

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    Monsanto Trying to Cover Up Deadly Health Risks of Roundup – The Ring Of Fire –

  6. Cerberus Says:

    Please see this article from Reuters as to how Glyphosate manufacturers hide vital evidence.

  7. Cerberus Says:

    Please see this article also.
    Gut-Wrenching: New Studies Reveal the Insidious Effects of Glyphosate –

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