The GMOA guns glyphosate and misses a milestone study on 90,000 people?
Posted on April 23rd, 2018

By Chandre Dharmawardana, Canada

[A shorter version of this article appeared in the Daily News:]

In a press conference held on 11th April,  the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) stated that fresh laws should be introduced to take stern action” against people involved in smuggling in such harmful chemicals” like glyphosate. The GMOA considers  glyphosate to be harmful” because it allegedly  causes cancer and kidney disease. However, just last November, the world’s largest study on the health effects of glyphosate covering over  nearly a quarter century (23 years)  and  involving 90,000 people, found NO harmful effects even on applying powerful statistical analysis to scrutinize the data.

As the kidney, blood, urine, heart function and many other health characteristics were monitored for over nearly a quarter century, any increase in all chronic diseases including kindey disease can now be ruled  out as being NOT connected with the use of glyphosate formulations in agriculture.

Published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI) on 9-November 2017, the long-term large-numbers study found that there was NO association between glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto’s popular herbicide RoundUp and any type of cancer. In particular, there was no association with any solid tumors or lymphoid malignancies overall, including non-Hogkin Lymphoma  and its subtypes”. The new study used  long-term data collected through the Agricultural Health Study. The study carefully monitored the health of nearly 90,000 people in Iowa and North Carolina from 1993 to 2010. These included farmers licensed to apply pesticides to their crops, and their spouses. The impact of more than 54,000 pesticide applications is taken into account in the study of which 83 percent contained glyphosate. Many of the farmers had been using glyphosate even before the study. Yet, after some two decades of continuous and intense use of glyphosate herbicides,  they found NO significant increase in cancers among those exposed to the chemical.

Most scientists acknowledged the quality, clarity and decisiveness of the study, funded entirely with government and university sources.  Prof Sir David Spiegelhalter, Winton Professor for the Public Understanding of Risk at the University of Cambridge, said:

This large and careful study shows no significant relationship between Glyphosate use and any cancer.  The reported possible association with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is no more than one would expect by chance when looking at 22 different cancer types. In fact the association that comes closest to statistical significance is a negative link with testicular cancer – that is, higher Glyphosate use was associated with lower risk – but again this is just the sort of chance result one would expect.”

So, how did the GMOA miss this decisive, massive study which in fact looks at the type of diseases that the GMOA thinks is caused by glyphosate? Even though we can excuse Ven. Ratana and his acolytes to be out of touch with the scientific community, one would expect that the GMOA would have its committee of mavens when it comes to technical matters, even though we recognized that the GMOA is a trade union with the primary mandate of protecting its own turf.

The most important non-communicable disease” that the GMOA refers to is cancer. This is precisely what is now definitively excluded from any association with the use of glyphosate, even if the latter were used continuously and intensely for two decades by a farmer.  Perhaps the GMOA  also has in mind the form of chronic kidney disease of unknown origin (CKDu)  that is prevalent mainly in the Rajarata. There is no scientific evidence at all in support of this, while there is compelling  evidence against the claim. In Sri Lanka, a small but politically powerful group of individuals led by Ven. Ratana, and a small number of scientists on the fringe of the main scientific community have claimed that chronic kidney disease is caused by the glyphosate in the environment and the food chain, and that too only if arsenic, hard-water  and other  agents are found in conjunction with glyphosate.

The US study

But the cats, dogs, cattle, and many villages in the Rajarata itself where the residents drink water from agricultural channels, rives and lakes do NOT get CKDu, while those who drink water from their private wells, located away from the paddy fields, get CKDu. So there is a strong anti-correlation between agrochemical use and CKDu. We also know that countries like Malaysia or NewZealand, which use many dozens of times more agrochemicals than Sri Lanka have no such chronic diseases.

Furthermore, the 90,000 people monitored by the US-NCI study would have also alerted the researchers to any higher incidence of kidney disease, since many different health indices of these subjects were a part of the inputs to the data base. While the presence of correlations does not establish a causal connection, the LACK of any correlation is a very strong indication that glyphosate cannot be a causative factor in diseases that the GMOA has indicated.

This US-NCI study is  just one of the many studies that have come  to this conclusion. Over 190 countries of the world are satisfied and approve the use of glyphosate. However,  strong political movements that take a nostalgic, romantic and often anti-science approach to agriculture have become very powerful during recent decades. Their strength is the unreasoned fear of the public, fanned by the MANTHRA”  that chemicals in the food” cause all sorts of chronic diseases. These groups join hands with the commercial interests of large consumer chains that  offer organic-foods”, natural foods” holistic foods” etc., catering to the elite classes who also control the politics of most countries, constituting about 1% of the world population. It is not surprising that many educated people and indeed medical doctors who do the daily grind”, but do not follow the research, fall for the  chemicals are poisoning our food” MANTHRA. In fact, many agrochemicals, if applied in sufficiently high doses can be toxic, as with ALL pharmaceuticals and industrial substances like gasoline, chlorine,  or common detergents. Even spices like chillies and cloves are potent toxins when their familiar-use thresholds are exceeded.

The conclusion  of the International Agency for Research in cancer (IARC) in 2015 that glyphosate is a class-II hazard  causing cancer at  high doses was a god-sent to the no-chemicals in my-food”  (NCMF) lobby. The class-II HAZARD was weaponized for propaganda and renamed a  dangerous TOXIN although no health risk was implied by the IARC. The NCMF lobby joined the powerful activists engaged  against Frankenfood”. This was their name for foods  cropped from genetically modified organisms (GMO). Wheat, Soya, canola oil, rice and vegetables where specific genes in their DNA  have been replaced by other genes confer them economically or medically  desirable properties. Genetic engineering of crops is the modern version of plant breeding” where  trial and error approaches are replaced by a  modern approach guided by the DNA of the  crops  of interest.  A  key role in  GMO cropping  has been given to  glyphosate  in that it is economically advantageous to use GMO crops resistant to glyphosate to allow weed control. Sri Lankans have been safely eating GM-wheat flour from USA, and Canadian lentils,  for decades.

The opponents of GMO have directed their guns on glyphosate as a part of their campaign against  so-called Frankenfoods”. Every manner of propaganda trick has been used. One of the most farcical  is the Kangaroo court organized by a French journalist, Marie-Monique Robin in the Hague, Netherlands. This propaganda event, patented and owned by Ms. Robin is named by her  The international court of Justice, Hague”, is to deceive the public by associating  with similar-sounding  institutions linked to the United Nations.

(see: )

This court” pronounced in April 2017 that Monsanto has committed crimes against humanity in unleashing glyphosate which is a weapon of mass destruction”! Ven. Ratana, and Dr. Jayasumana were the main Sri Lankan delegates” to the Kangaroo court. The delegation claimed that 3 out of every 100 families  in the Rajarata gave birth to deformed children due to glyphosate use.  However, 3% is the expected average birth statistic for deformed children,  irrespective of glyphosate use, even in the days before glypohsate, be it in glyphobic” Norway, Sri Lanka or glyphilic” North America. Ven. Ratana  repeated the same false claim of 3% birth defects  in the Rajarata being due to glyphosate” on Derana Television, 27-3-2018.

On the same broadcast, Ven. Ratana stated that the GMOA is with him. Does the GMOA stand with the false statistics that Ven. Ratana rattles out? Has the GMOA taken cognizance of the world’s largest study on  glyphosate covering some 90,000 people exposed to glyphosate for some two decades, continuously? As a responsible, professional  body, we hope  that the GMOA acts on the basis of evidence and  rejects the false claims of  misguided zealots.

Sometimes it is claimed that products imported from diverse sources and small suppliers contain unknown, secret” ingredients that may be harmful, and hence we cannot use them, and so we have BAN all  herbicides. In fact, such claims are unfounded, as Chinese and Indian products are now up to world standards and even compete in the North American market. Instead of suffering a staggering Rs10-12  billion loss every year, we can use a tiny fraction of that to allow the import of the slightly more expensive but proven product, to allay the  fear psychosis  that has been fanned across the country by uninformed zealots.

Meanwhile, two medical doctors, Prof. Saroj Jayasinghe, and Prof. Herath have stated that glyphosate should continue to be BANNED  on the basis of what they call the precautionary principle (PP), i.e., as a precaution because there is some doubt among  the scientific community about the total safety of glyphosate. There is always doubt about everything in science, as science never makes dogmatic statements that claim 100% exactitude. There are always some scientists  as well as individual members of the public who claim that vaccinations are not safe, that fluoridation of water is not safe, that coconut milk is not safe etc., etc., and so on.

The precautionary principle when used to ban  and banish” is  known as the PP-BB. Such approaches have failed historically as with alcohol, guns etc. Indeed the imposed ban on glyphosate has led to a glut of contraband from India, proving that the PP-BB does not work. The lack of glyphosate or any other viable alternative weedicide during the last three years, and the consequent loss of crop productivity is believed to have made the country directly loose some Rs 30 billion, while indirect losses, and abandonment of plantations, have to counted in as well.

The modern approach to PP is to use control and constrain”, i.e., PP-CC, where the toxic substance, or the dangerous weapon, is not made available to the public but available through qualified service providers. Thus guns and weapons are available to the police and security forces, but not to the public. Pharmaceuticals are available to doctors and hospitals, and only  non-prescription drugs can be bought by the public without any controls. Toxic agrochemicals like paraquat can also be made available to the farmer through technically competent, approved service providers, just as spraying for Dengue mosquitoes can be requested by any member of the public who may need such a service. No harmful insecticides and larvicides are sold directly to private individuals. That is, the PP is fully implemented by having the right controls and constraints on the toxic substance.

However, we have to be fore-warned that today we have proponents  who  may reverse much of our gains in public health by opposing even fluoridation of water on the claim that the scientific community is divided on the issue, and hence fluoridation should be banned on the basis of the PP. Given such misunderstandings on the nature of scientific doubt, PP-BB  and the public good on the one hand, and the action of anti-science zealots who want to turn back agriculture to the days of slash and burn cultivation, we face a grim reality that the public may not be aware of.

[The author was a past Vice-Chancellor and Professor of Chemistry at the SJP  university, Sri Lanka, and pioneering the setting up of the food science department at the SJP university;  he currently works as Physicist at the National Research Council of Canada, Ottawa,  and as a professor at the Dept. of Physics,  University of Montreal, Canada. ]

4 Responses to “The GMOA guns glyphosate and misses a milestone study on 90,000 people?”

  1. Cerberus Says:

    Latest update : 2017-10-24
    The European Parliament Tuesday called for the controversial weedkiller glyphosate to be banned by 2022 amid fears it causes cancer, a day before EU states vote on whether to renew its licence.
    MEPs approved a resolution which is not binding but will add fresh pressure on the European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, which has recommended the licence for the herbicide be renewed for 10 years.

    Glyphosate critics, led by environmental campaigners Greenpeace, are calling for an outright ban in Europe and on Monday activists handed the EU a petition signed by more than 1.3 million people backing such a move.

    Experts from the EU’s 28 member states are due to vote on the commission recommendation on Wednesday, just as a row escalates over claims that US agro giant Monsanto unduly influenced research into its weedkiller’s safety.

    MEPs criticised the commission’s proposal, saying it “fails to ensure a high level of protection of both human and animal health and the environment (and) fails to apply the precautionary principle”.

    They called for a halt to non-professional use of glyphosate when its licence runs out in December 15 and for its use to end near public parks and playgrounds.

    Opponents of glyphosate, used in Monsanto’s best-selling herbicide Roundup, point to a 2015 study by the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer that concluded it was “probably carcinogenic”.

    This contradicted findings by the European Food Safety Authority and the European Chemicals Agency, which both said glyphosate was unlikely to cause cancer in humans, in line with a 2016 review carried out by other WHO experts and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation.

  2. Cerberus Says:

    Where is Glyphosate Banned? | Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman
    A number of cities, counties, states and countries throughout the world have taken steps to either restrict or ban glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer.

    The following countries have issued outright bans on glyphosate, imposed restrictions or have issued statements of intention to ban or restrict glyphosate-based herbicides, including Roundup, over health concerns and the ongoing Roundup cancer litigation:

    Argentina: Over 30,000 health care professionals advocated for a glyphosate ban following the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s (IARC) report on glyphosate, which concluded the chemical is probably carcinogenic to humans.
    Australia: Fremantle and Nedlands stopped spraying glyphosate for street maintenance due to health concerns. Stirling temporarily banned the use of glyphosate on bushlands. Other cities and school districts throughout the country are currently testing alternative herbicides in an effort to curtail or eliminate glyphosate use.
    Belgium:Banned the individual use of glyphosate.
    Bermuda: Outlawed private and commercial sale of all glyphosate-based herbicides.
    Brazil: A federal prosecutor requested that the Brazilian Justice Department outlaw the use of glyphosate out of concern the herbicide causes health problems.
    Canada: Eight out of the 10 provinces in Canada have some form of restriction on the use of non-essential cosmetic pesticides, including glyphosate.
    Colombia: Outlawed the use of glyphosate to destroy illegal plantations of coca, the raw ingredient for cocaine, out of concern that glyphosate causes cancer.
    Denmark: The Danish Working Environment Authority declared glyphosate to be carcinogenic and has recommended a change to less toxic chemicals.
    El Salvador: Banned glyphosate over links to deadly kidney disease.
    England: A number of townships, including Shaftsbury, Brighton, Hammersmith & Fulham, Bristol, Glastonbury and Erewash have voted to institute restrictions on pesticides and herbicides, including glyphosate.
    France: Banned the private sale of glyphosate. The law is scheduled to take effect in 2022. France also said it will ban glyphosate in the future regardless of the European Union vote to relicense glyphosate.
    Germany: German government officials from the Green party asked the EU Commission not to renew the license for glyphosate. Germany previously abstained from voting to relicense glyphosate and all indications point to an abstention in the next vote later this year. Certain retail stores in Germany have pulled glyphosate-based herbicides like Roundup from shelves.
    Italy: Italy’s Ministry of Health placed a number of restrictions on glyphosate use. Italian legislators have also raised concerns about glyphosate safety, and have come out against relicensing the herbicide in the European Union.
    Luxembourg: One of Luxembourg’s largest supermarket chains removed glyphosate from its shelves following the release of the IARC glyphosate report.
    Malta: Malta began the process of instituting countrywide ban of glyphosate. However, Environment Minister José Herrera backtracked in January of 2017, saying the country would continue to oppose glyphosate in discussions but would fall in line with the European Union and wait for further studies.
    Netherlands: Banned all non-commercial use of glyphosate.
    New Zealand: The cities of Auckland and Christchurch passed resolutions to reduce the usage of chemicals for weed and pest control in public places.
    Portugal: President of the Portuguese Medical Association called for a worldwide ban of glyphosate.
    Scotland: Aberdeen cut back its use of herbicides and Edinburgh’s City Council voted to phase out glyphosate.
    Spain: Barcelona, Madrid and a number of other regions throughout the country banned the use of glyphosate in public areas.
    Sri Lanka:Banned the private and commercial sale of glyphosate.
    Sweden: Raised concerns about glyphosate safety and has pushed against relicensing the herbicide in the EU.
    Switzerland: Concerned about public wellbeing, the Swiss supermarket chains Migros and Coop removed glyphosate-based products from their shelves due to health risks.

  3. Cerberus Says:

    How Glyphosate Worsens Modern Diseases
    By Dr. Mercola

    The more we learn about genetically engineered (GE) foods, the clearer the dangers become. I’ve warned you of the potential dangers of GE foods for many years now, as I was convinced that the artificial combining of plants with genes from wildly different kingdoms is bound to cause problems……….

  4. Fran Diaz Says:

    Researchers have shown that the fact that Glyphosate acts and disrupts the Shikimata Pathway in weeds (this ‘route’ in weeds is essential for the life of the weeds) to eventually kill weeds, is a well established fact.
    However, the Shikimate Pathways is found in all plants and also in the gut bacteria of human beings. So, people who take large doses of Glyphosate will find that their gut bacteria get weakened or killed off, resulting in illness as the needed nutrition is not absorbed by their bodies.

    If Glyphosate is applied in large doses in tea plantations, even the tea plants will wither and eventually die off.
    In the case of tea plantations, we do not see the need to make such a fuss about weeds as weeds cannot grow under the dense growth of tea bushes. The pathways in the plantations can be cleared of weeds using more safe methods. Over to the TRI in Lanka !

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.



Copyright © 2024 All Rights Reserved. Powered by Wordpress