Restore Fertilizers and lift the ban on the pesticides: Glyphosate and Paraquat.
Posted on March 27th, 2018

By Chandre Dharnawardana, Canada.

Paraquate was an excellent  herbicide which was banned by a previous government mainly because farmers who went bankrupt due to  government rice policies used paraquat  to commit  suicide! Gyphosate was the other popular herbicide  banned in 2015, ensuring that the farmer and even the wealthy tea planter should commit suicide. Pethiyagoda, a long-time doyen of the tea industry has resigned, possibly in total disgust. At last, the minster of agriculture, finally sensing disaster and bowing to scientific evidence on the safety of glyphoate has presented a cabinet paper to lift the ban on glyphosate. Paraquat too should be immediately re-approved with its availability restricted  to technically proficient companies who can be hired by individuals desiring to use paraquat.

As a Professor of Chemistry and University President  who in a small way  pioneered environmental science and food technology in the 1970s at the J’pura university, and as a supporter of scientific agriculture, I wish the Minister success in re-approving not only glyphosate, but paraquat as well.

The tea industry has been loosing some 6 billion per annum, while its multiplier effect drives the loss   since 2015 close to 30 billion. Carefully crafted propaganda claiming a Kapra Beetle” further hurt the industry. Meanwhile, the  eco-pundits who got asbestos banned point to the tea monoculture and its soil, and call for closing the estates. Other  eco-pundits and masters of the Toxin-Free Nation claim that paddy is ecological unsustainable, using up water and eroding the soil and push to convert the paddy fields into natural” wet lands and marshes.  Rice and flour are  increasingly imported  by the government, while  downgrading  its fertilizer subsidy schemes. Farmers are told  to make their own organic fertilizer” or buy the  bio-film” sponsored by the Presidential secretariat, but now alleged to be a scam.

The farmer has to control weeds and pests. Glyphosate was banned at the behest of the JHU politicians who abandoned Rajapaksa. Venerable Ratana and followers and  God-Natha psychics had already committed the Rajapaksa government to  ban Glyphosate. The herbicide has a safe track record of over four  decades in all advanced farming countries, with some countries using almost a thousand times Sri Lanka’s  annual usage per hectare of agrochemicals and pesticides (world-bank data).  Nevertheless, large amounts of fake research” news against these pesticides reside in the internet.  Individuals selling their products claiming to detoxify” and rejuvenate” clients  sell  alternative diets  to save the earth, save the environment, and fight agro-business”. Even the GMOA has fallen for this, and some medics  are undoubtedly avid readers of questionable Internet Gurus” like Dr. Mercola or Dr. Stephanie Seneff. The latter has spun theories proving the toxicity of glyphosate”  and sells a program that guarantees a life span of 110 years (free of glyphosate!) if you adhere to it, for a fee.

Dr. Mercola spread the claim that CKDu is caused by a glyphosate-arsenic-hardwater complex that was hypothesized  by Dr. Jayasumana and  authored (in a little-known pay and publish  journal”) jointly with a medium” claiming psychic powers linking her to God Natha.  This substance imagined in 2014 has not been found by any one including Dr. Jayasumana who busies himself in electioneering.  But many militants of the  GMOA believe that Dr. Jayasumana and associates have proved” that CKDu in the Rajarata is caused by this imagined glyphosate complex, although the WHO team who studied CKDu patients found no evidence for glyphosate in their biopsies. Even though glyphosate is absent from the arena of the crime, they still want it banned as a precaution” !

The force that propelled  the ban is the public fear of chemicals” that has been cleverly fanned  by the local elite who  ape the elite of California and Europe. The poor suffer their hunger while the rich search for clean food”. Surely  you cannot go wrong by eating clean food”. This simple motherhood and apple pie” statement is linked to the claim that natural” food, unaffected by chemicals” must be clean. This is then equated to organic food”, while organic food” is  a movement initiated by the proto-Nazi  Dr Rudolf Steiner who talked of a  spiritual and biodynamic” foundation for food.  Steiner founded Anthroposophy”, a sort of mystical hodge-podge  claiming that  the human race is evolving” through the different races, with black people  at childhood”, Asians degenerate” and white Europeans the most civilized. He envisaged a world where the population was limited to an elite with the lebensraum and resources to grow natural biodynamic food”  called  organic food”. This movement linked nicely with the misguided Eugenics movement in pre-Nazi  Europe and became a successful  bio-foods” business.

In countries like Sri Lanka,  the elite internationalist” upper classes (who unconsciously equate themselves with the white masters of colonial times) and the nationalists resonate together on organic food”.  Nationalists claim that  traditional agriculture” made Sri Lanka  the granary of the East” and identify with organic food”.  Multinational food businesses with supermarket chains like Whole Foods” capitalize on the public belief in  organic food”. That only  about 2% of the world’s food supply is organic”, and the  impossibility of bridging the remaining 98% are ignored. The  enormous success of insecticides like DDT in saving human lives, and in opening up previously inhabitable regions for habitation have been turned topsy-turvy by emphasizing  the dangers of excessive use.  The clarion call of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring” was  weaponized by the organic food movement, with baseless attacks on the Green Revolution which saved India from mass famine, in the nick of time. A Rudolf Steiner could lament that if not for the green revolution the world would have two billion fewer brown-skins.  Although industrial fertilizers and Urea came into being in the early part of the 20th century, these activists consider it  a Western plot” to use up the excess Nitrogen explosives of the 2nd world war!

These attacks of the elitist white supremacists found strange bedfellows with the anti-establishment left in attacking  giant agro-business. As many of these are based in USA and Europe, the attack on industrial agriculture” became a part of the cold war.  Fake news snippets against glyphosate are routinely posted by Russian agencies when ever Glyphosate comes for review by the EU parliament. Such news gets circulated on the internet by unsuspecting natural foods” zealots. Even today, when Glyphosate was mentioned in the Sri Lankan parliament, Mr. Dinesh Gunawardena, a scion of Sri Lanka’s Communist party unhesitatingly linked it with American capitalism, while Ven. Ratana claimed that a man from America” has come to Sri Lanka to agitate against the glyphosate ban imposed by Sri Lanka in 2015. Ironically, President Sirisena’s victory is also allegedly a triumph of American machinations in the murky waters of Sri Lankan politics!

Given this political backdrop, the ban on glyphosate was effectively based on pseudo-science and political propaganda. Venerable Ratana became a credulous victim of the God Natha  group and  campaigned that  fertilizers were laced with arsenic and cadmium. They took samples abroad for analysis but did not do elementary arithmetic to estimate how the toxins” get diluted in the soil.  Yellow-robed   demonstrators at the Fort railway station  took the message to the country. A canard claimed that  glyphosate sold to third-world countries” are substandard”. Prophets of doom came on television falsely claiming affiliations with the London University, UK and predicted Sri Lanka’s toxification from cadmium due to agrochemical use. Gunadasa Amarasekra, Ven. Ben Nalaka  and other  nationalists needed no facts or evidence” to support banning pesticides and calling for  compost instead of  fertilizers laced with toxins”.  Peer-reviewed science is lame against such forces.

In reality, the fertilizer standards of  Sri Lanka are at least an order of magnitude stiffer  than those of most countries. Repeated analyses of the soil, water and food  show that Lankan rice is quite safe to eat, and that the waters of Rajarata rivers and tanks are safe to drink.   The latest study was  by the J’pura University Professor Kamani Wanigasuriya and  the University of North Carolina. Those who get CKDu drink water stagnating in their private wells. Laboratory mice fed such water also get kidney disease. However,  in the short term it is politically hip to attack Monsanto, claim a land  full of toxins, demand   closing unsustainable”  tea and paddy plantations, get to  import rice,  tea, etc.,   and  collect  the commissions

6 Responses to “Restore Fertilizers and lift the ban on the pesticides: Glyphosate and Paraquat.”

  1. Cerberus Says:

    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 runoff water made unhealthy for human consumption.

    Some facts :
    – The mechanization 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, in spite of being the 7th largest tea producer.
    – Kenya has an overproduction of tea.

    Glyphosate kills the tea plant itself after some time. –

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

    Black Tea Prices Falling | World Tea News –

    Tea stocks perk up, but experts remain cautious – The Economic Times –

    Tea Consumption in the United Kingdom Show Steep Decline – The Atlantic –

    Tea Industry Indonesia Update: Falling Production & Export –

  2. Fran Diaz Says:

    Agree with what Cerberus has stated here. Thank you.


    I have walked through a few tea plantations.
    The tea plants are grown close together. They form a kind of “green carpet”, viewed from the top. Sunlight cannot go through this “green carpet” and weeds are unable to grow without sunlight at the lower levels under the tea bushes. Some weeds may grow along the pathways, and these ought to be dealt with effectively without the use of deadly and harmful weedicides applied all over the tea plantations. The water run offs with the weedicides will further affect cultivated crops (rice, vegetables etc.) grown at lower levels. The tea bushes too will eventually wither off and even die due to strong weedicides such as Glyphosates.

  3. Dilrook Says:

    Restore fertilizer subsidy but certainly not Glyphosate and Paraquat. These two are highly destructive and poisonous when used in commercial quantities and mixed into waterways.

    I’m shocked by the writer’s fascination with poisonous substances. Just a few months ago he proposed allowing house owners to spray DDT inside their houses. DDT use is also very heavily restricted in Sri Lanka. Using it indoors is unthinkably dangerous.

    Tea industry has destroyed Sri Lanka’s water table, the environment and the social fabric beyond repair. A proper assessment of this colonial imposed destructive menace must be made and action must be taken.

  4. Dilrook Says:

    To save the disastrous tea industry, we have to suffer lung cancer as asbestos use is tied to it.

  5. Nanda Says:

    I don’t know how many of you aware of asbestos factory destroying Sinhalese people who depend on hard work as farmers in Putlam district.
    To save tea, Sirisena disbanned asbestos. Even if he banned asbestos earlier the factory set up previosu governement went on and completed as a ‘development’. It provides employment to 100 people but distroys livelhood and health of thousands.
    Even their wells are dry now (due to pulling out of water by the factory) and they can’t even breathe. Strangely not much publicity for this one.

  6. NAK Says:

    Only the parasites who draw sustenance from draconian multi nationals like Monsanto promote poisons which also kill useful plants along with the weeds. It would be better and useful if these pandits who promote poisons to try and find a safe way to get rid of this foreign invading weed called ‘Gini Grass’? probably introduced by the same merchants of death.

    Sri Lanka has been an agricultural country that sustained its agriculture for centuries with out these poisons.

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