Dr. Jayasinghe’s “No poison in my plate” syndrome and his “need to ban glyphosate”.
Posted on May 12th, 2018

By Chandre Dharmawardana

Dr. Lal Jayasinghe (LJ) writing in the Island (11-05-2018)  gives three reasons that he says are put out  in opposing the ban. He is of course for the ban.

The glyphosate debate in Sri Lanka is an intellectual and scientific scandal. Seemingly, Sri Lankan scientists are remaining silent about it? No, in fact, what seems to be the case is that newspaper Editors  do not publish the letters submitted to them by scientists – unless they are against agrochemicals!   Most editors, journalists and the reading public do not have a scientific background. Editors themselves  are also infected by the  I don’t want poison in my plate” syndrome. Capitalizing on it, Ven. Ratana has pushed a Toxin-free Nation” program to give himself  political mileage.

All those who write against the ban are claimed to be in the pay of the multi-national companies. However,  at least to his credit, LJ does not make that unsubstantiated accusation. Instead he  lists his arguments. LJ’s  article reveals the thinking behind this no poison in my plate” syndrome. Let us look at his arguments.  LJ lists the three reasons that he thinks are given to lift the ban:

  1. Firstly, it has not been proved that Glyphosate caused Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown Origin (CKDu)”.

Let alone kidney disease, it has in fact BEEN PROVED  that intense regular  use of glyphosate for 23 years is NOT correlated with ANY  disease. The heath data of some 90,000 members of farming families in Iowa and Minnesota were followed for 23 years where data on blood, urine, and other bio-samples were followed by researchers funded by the US Departments  of Agriculture, and Health. No correlations what so ever with any diseases, and in particular with 200 different cancers were detected.

Read (https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/11/12/1715037/-Glyphosate-causes-cancer-large-scientific-study-says-no)


So why ban it?

In dealing with glyphosate, why do newspaper graphics artists always depict a person wearing a goggled hood? Why are file photos showing lethal  danger pulled out to illustrate the article? They reveal the unjustified common mistrust of  this herbicide.  Glyphosate formulations often are applied WITHOUT protective clothing or goggles as they are very safe and hardly need such precautions.

  1. Secondly, that other countries have not banned it.

Sri Lanka does not have the funds to run a massive health test on thousands of people. So we have to rely on others, just as for pharmaceuticals used in Sri Lanka.

  1. thirdly, the tea industry (and even paddy cultivation or maize cultivation) cannot survive without glyphosate”.

Tea cannot survive in the competitive international market if it has to pay for manual labour while other countries use a cheap effective herbicide. Maize cultivation is completely wiped out and Victor Ivan’s  Ravaya” article documents the tragedy. Tea industry  suffers  a loss of some 15 billion rupees per annum, making a total loss of 45 billion since the ban. Paddy industry uses very little glyphosate and can do without it by keeping the field flooded to kill weeds. Manual weeding, and  flooding to control weeds increase soil erosion. An inch of eroded soil takes thousands of years  to be replaced.

LJ  then give his own arguments. He says:

It is different in the case of Glyphosate. We can do without it. It is very difficult to prove that one particular chemical that is in wide use is the cause of a particular disease or group of diseases”.

It is indeed very difficult to prove that a substance causes a given disease. But one CAN prove that it does NOT cause the disease, by showing its anti-correlation with diseases. That is what was done in the 23 year-long US study. Furthermore, countries like New Zealand and Malaysia which use many dozens of times more glyphosate per annum per hectare have no higher incidence of chronic diseases.

LJ  says:

We must not make the common mistake of thinking “absence of evidence is evidence of absence“.

It is NOT absence of evidence. We in fact HAVE evidence that it does NOT cause chronic toxicity. Chronic toxicity caused by ingestion of very small amounts over a long period.

LJ  says:

Therefore, as the group of eminent doctors have written in The Island, we should use the precautionary principle”.

These eminent doctors did  not even mention the massive US study. Neither did the GMOA. Instead they mentioned the WHO-IARC classification of glyphosate as a class-2 hazard, and also failed to mention that it was NOT listed as a health risk. The precautionary principle (PP)  was also misunderstood by these doctors. When there is a hazard, we navigate with caution. That is, the PP requires using controls and constraints (CC) ” and not ban and banish (BB)”. Guns, pharmaceuticals, gasoline, radioactive substances,  etc., are dangerous but they are not banned. They are available through the police, trained pharmacists and trained operators. To apply PP by banning something is a no-brainier not practiced anywhere in the world any more.

LJ  asks questions ignoring the distinction between ACUTE Toxicity and CHRONIC Toxicity.

Supporters of glyphosate cannot deny that Glyphosate is a poison, at least for plants. That is the reason it is used to kill weeds. The manufacturers will say that it does not harm humans, but advises people to protect themselves from unnecessary exposure. Why? Because if exposed to large amounts it undoubtedly causes harm. Will the supporters of Glyphosate drink a pint of the stuff? Of course not.

Neem oil is recommended by organic farmers as a pesticide. Will they

drink a cup of Neem oil (which is far more poisonous than glyphosate)?

Will they drink a cup of organic fertilizer made into a slurry?

If you drink 250 grams (a cup) of glyphosate, it will surely cause acute toxicity. But what if it is diluted many many times, as used in farm applications? LJ knows well that if you take 250 g of the daily vitamin it can kill you (acute toxicity). However we don’t ban vitamins. A dose of 25 g of the vitamin is not toxic, and it is in fact good for you. That is, there is no chronic toxicity even if the vitamin is acutely toxic. The massive, 23-YEAR long US study on 90,000 farmers PROVED  THAT  GYLPHOSATE FORMULATIONS HAVE NO DISCERNIBLE CHRONIC TOXICITY.

Then LJ  says:

What about the worms and little creatures that live in the soil? Do they have a choice? Considering their size, they are forced to drink not a pint but gallons of the stuff”.

In fact earthworms thrive BETTER  in soils treated with glyphosate. This is because glyphosate binds to metal toxins like cadmium and make them insoluble. So, earthworms and other creatures which fail to live in soils containing cadmium (a naturally occurring soil mineral) begin to thrive BETTER  with glyphosate application, as  shown by many researchers. A recent reference (2014) is, Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry”, volume 33, pages 2351-2357 by Dr. Chui-Fan Zhou and collaborators.

Without searching the facts, LJ voices the usual motherhood statements:

Why is it important that we should not destroy the very small and microscopic life that live in the soil? There are two important reasons, apart from the fact that they also have a right to live. One reason is that plants grow with the help of these creatures” …..   The second reason why we should not destroy the little creatures is that because even the smallest insect has a place in the ecosystem”.

Exactly, and  GLYPHOSATE HELPS SOIL ORGANISMS as proven by many research papers.

It is also not true that worms and soil bugs  get gallons of glyphosate on them. A gallon may be sprayed over a hectare and distributed over a soil depth of 10-20 cm, and you might get a fraction of a micro-gram in a kilogram of soil! The bugs get a thousand times more petroleum and oil residues dumped onto them than glyphosate.  How much petrol did Sri Lanka  import? The whole country imported only 6000 metric tons of glyphosate in 2012, and that was used on a vast acreage of tea, coconut, maize, sugarcane, paddy, vegetables, horticultural industries etc.  LJ  is using his imagination that has run riot because he, and the two eminent doctors with their ban and banish”  precautionary principle ignore the difference between acute and chronic toxicities.

If glyphosate and other agrochemicals have killed off  the bugs in the soil, why would egrets (kokku”)

flock around the tractor of a farmer who is tilling his field? And yet, it is an ubiquitous sight in most parts of Sri Lanka.

LJ  claims that glyphosate is appropriate only for countries with large-scale farming with low human density. Far from it. High-human density countries like  UK,  Europe, or NewZealand, Malasyia or even tiny Singapore use large amounts of glyphosate. Roundup” is approved for use in School yards, golf clubs and home gardens. Glyphosate allows humans to break away from the drudgery and slavery of manual labour in hot farmlands and engage in more humane and meaningful  life styles.

LJ says I am eagerly waiting for the day when anything grown in Sri Lanka is automatically organic and there is no longer any need for ‘organic certification’.  Banning glyphosate is the first step”.

What a naive hope! The first step, according to the Swiss Research Institute in Organic agriculture is reducing the world population. By how much?  To 4 or 5 billion? The Swiss researchers also point out the need for the world to go vegetarian, increase the amount of land under agriculture, and make more water available to feed the world using organic farming. It is an open secret that many White-supremacist Eugenics” groups feel that the populations of Africa and South Asia should be sacrificed to reduce the population of the world and gain the land and water needed for this organic food” program of the elite supremacist (and healthy”) minority that hopes to rule a toxin-free” world !

Some 40% of Sri Lankan children come to school hungry – they don’t dream of organic food. They do not belong to the (less-than 5%)  Sri-Lankan elite class who can afford to make  a choice between organic” and usual” food. Fortunately, the organic” food (which makes up to no more than about 2% of the worlds food production) is nutritionally no better than the usual supermarket food. Neither the usual foods, nor the conventional foods, exceed the maximum allowed limits of toxins (as set by the WHO) and hence both types of food are perfectly safe to eat.

But today, whole-foods, natural foods” and such-named grocery chains are making a strong bid for a bigger share of the food market, and using fear-mongering tactics and epithets like Frankenfoods” to achieve their ends. There have been individuals who have come up on Sri Lanka TV channels claiming that Sri Lankan rice is laced with  with cadmium,  arsenic etc., and with pesticides, and that the country is heading towards a massive epidemic of kidney disease. Even Natha Deyyo has been invoked! Fortunately, the dire economic circumstances of the day will ensure that people will ignore  such false, hysterical claims.

A person with a Sri Lankan name, claiming to be an Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Georgia Med. School wrote to the Island Newspaper claiming that Ms. Stefanie Seneff had proved that glyphosate is one of the causes of Autism.  The person is not listed in the faculty directory, and the Secretarial Assistant to the Department of Psychiatry of the Georgia Med School, Ms. Karen Lafontaine has no knowledge of such an individual!   There are many people coming forward to talk about glyphosate on the media, while pretending to be “Researchers and Professors” affiliated to various institutions and hospitals, when they are in fact not so affiliated.

The massive US study would have revealed any such correlations of glyphosate with Autism if such a correlation existed.  Furthermore, no informed medical scientist would mention Ms. Seneff as she has reached a high level of notoriety in claiming that glyphosate causes not just autism, but virtually ALL  non-communicable diseases. Simply googling her name is enough to check her out. She  is a retired computer engineer (with no knowledge of environmental science or medicine). She has a program for selling a healthy way of life that enables you to live to 110 if you enroll in her program.

Areas now under agriculture in Sri Lanka are already being abandoned due to lack of an effective herbicide, and they are being converted to human habitations which are concrete and asphalt jungles that destroy the natural habitat.  Farmland is not forest, but better than asphalt and concrete. Gylphosate is necessary to protect the environment,  prevent erosion AND feed the world.

9 Responses to “Dr. Jayasinghe’s “No poison in my plate” syndrome and his “need to ban glyphosate”.”

  1. aloy Says:

    Dr. Chandare,
    You are in some national committee of Canada. Perhaps to get Canadian nationality you may have denounced Sri lankan citizenship. There is a wide spread resentment among educated people of Sri lanka on the lifting of ban on Glyphosate. That is because it has been proved by our own medical people that glyphosate is one of the reasons for CKDUe. Up country in SL is the water source of all rivers. Using harmful material in those areas means distributing poison to the entire country. So, please refrain from affairs concerning SL. No harm in promoting it in your country as it is a vast land mass and also they can afford to provide an effective mechanisms to prevent kidney damages to their citizens. Our poor farmers do not have that help from any government.

  2. aloy Says:

    Even though our farmers are poor, ours is a middle income country. Therefore with the high wages we have to pay the plantation workers we cannot make tea a profitable industry. I understand it is heavily subsidized. Which means the rest of the country have o pay to maintain it. In order to make the lives of those workers (who are termed as colonial parasites in this forum by some) easier the people of the rest of the country have to pay with their lives. Polticos of those areas will no doubt support this move as they have to depend on these workers votes to come to power. Time to move away from tea and send these workers to other areas. We may even be able to make more money by exporting clean water fro these areas.

  3. Dilrook Says:

    I agree with Aloy.

    Local research have proven the ills of glyphosate not just in causing CKD but also many other health problems for humans and wildlife. Canadian thinking and “solutions” don’t work in Sri Lanka a tropical island nation with very high population density and a unique pattern of water flow.

    The world is moving away from harsh chemicals.

  4. Christie Says:

    Dear Chabdre:

  5. Christie Says:

    Dear Chandre:

    Do you know that in Canada this stuff is used under strict control and is banned in some municipalities.

    AVAZz is active in Canada and they oppose the use of your stuff.

    There is a raging debate over the use of this stuff all over the world.

    If we use this stuff in our tea plantations we will use a lot of overseas tea buyers.

    Japan is evaluating the use of this stuff by us.

    I have put up some web stuff for you to read on this site.

    Do some research or just drink a cup of tea with a tea spoon of Monsanto Round UP sold in Canada.

    Monsanto is not making much money as they used to be and Bayer of Germany may by Monsanto.

  6. Fran Diaz Says:

    Idiotically, the ban on Glyphosate is being blamed for the fall of tea prices/export of Tea in Lanka !

    There are a number of reasons given by experts as to why tea is no longer the lucrative trade it was.
    Among them is that some avid tea drinkers such as the people of Britain are no longer going “gung ho for the cuppa” ! They are turning to alternate drinks such as coffee, beer, etc.
    Also, seasonal droughts, lack of mechanisation in tea plucking etc. (4 tea pluckers can be replace by use of one tea plucking machine).
    Generally, world tea prices have fallen.
    Also, as stated earlier, weeds cannot grow under the dense growth of tea bushes as there is no sunlight. Weeds found in in the small pathways in tea estates have to removed using alternate methods.

    The simplified version as to why Glyphosate is dangerous to human health ought to be published in leaflet form and distributed to govt offices, school libraries, armed forces, and other public places.

    To my understanding of matters, simply put, Glyphosate is dangerous because, used indiscriminately, this chemical has the ability to kill all plant life including the gut flora in human beings, thus causing seriously impaired digestion and enhancing and causing various diseases, including CKD.

  7. Cerberus Says:

    Item 1 is not true. Please see some of the research papers showing the toxicity of Glyphosate to all mammals.

    Until the issues about Glyphosate are clear Sri Lanka should avoid the use of these toxic weed killers which only enrich the companies who produce it and their spokesmen. Therefore please be cautious in promoting this weedicide in our little country till we know more about it. The companies who manufacture this product are so enormously wealthy that they tend to suppress any information inimical to the spread of its use in Agriculture.

    Readers, please read some of the following articles for your enlightenment.
    https://www.degruyter.com/view/j/intox.2013.6.issue-4/intox-2013-0026/intox-2013-0026.xml – Glyphosate, pathways to modern diseases II: Celiac sprue and gluten intolerance
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4392553/ – Glyphosate, pathways to modern diseases III: Manganese, neurological diseases, and associated pathologies
    http://www.fooddemocracynow.org/blog/2015/apr/13 – Op-Ed: Roundup’s Glyphosate’s Are Killing Our Gut Microbes
    http://news.backtotheroots.com/2016/08/28/glyphosate-a-complete-list-of-all-countries-that-have-banned-it/ – A Complete List Of All Countries That Have Banned Glyphosate
    http://m.wikihow.com/Avoid-Glyphosate-Residue – How to Avoid Glyphosate Residue
    https://biofoundations.org/how-to-detoxify-your-body-from-glyphosate-exposure/ – How to Detoxify Your Body from Glyphosate Exposure

    Item 2 is not true. Please the list of countries which have banned Glyphosate.

    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 a 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 well-being, the Swiss supermarket chains Migros and Coop removed glyphosate-based products from their shelves due to health risks.

    Item 3 is also not true.

    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. Sri Lanka was the granary of the east long ago at a time when we did not have any Glyphosate. How do you think we managed?

    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. – 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?

  8. nilwala Says:

    There is increasing rejection of glyphosate use by traditionally agricultural and health practiioners in UK and EU as well as a host of other countries. This is not without reason, as there is growing awareness of the marketing practices by these global corporations.
    Whatever are the published research results, I have doubts that research can be quite free of bias that is needed for successful careers in global corporations that market synthetic pesticides and other products . Whistle blowers in companies marketing tobacco products is a prime example wherein the Truth finally was able to make impact and change public attitudes and govt policies
    relating to spread of relentless marketing of these noxious substances without concern as to the resulting deaths and suffering..

    At the end of the day what we should encourage is organic agriculture that is as free of synthetic compounds as much as can be possible.Synthesized materials are incompatible with our naturally evolved systems and therefore as inimical to human health as well as to other life systems. At the end of the day, even if natural products have some negative actions on our cellular functions, they will not be as damaging as these synthetic substances, since the livers, kidneys, and immune systems that have evolved to keep
    living systems in proper function by elimination of toxins, aberrant cells , etc. cannot handle these synthetic chemicals with the same competence.

    Synthetics and antibiotics (although also synthetic), taken ONLY as short term stressors do not have the same negative effects on biological systems as the long-term intake of pesticides via food. Many drugs today are often prescribed to be taken over the long term, and often encouraged to be taken for “life”. In answer to the fact that life expectancy has increased despite the pesticides in agricultural usage, it is NOT the innocuousness of pesticides but the effectiveness of ANTIBIOTICS that have been responsible for the improved human life expectancy statistics.

  9. Dilrook Says:

    Thank you Cerberus for those details.

    Agro-chemicals industry is another multi billion dollar industry like pharmaceuticals or defence. Profit is the only motivating factor.

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