How the ban on Glyphosate helped the Army-worm caterpillar.
Posted on January 25th, 2019

Bodhi Dhanapala, Quebec. Canada

The country has been invaded by the army-worm caterpillar local known as the Senaa Dalambuwa”.  All kinds of conspiracy theories are being spun, and some of it was played out in Parliament itself. Claims that the caterpillar has been deliberately introduced”, or that it is the lack of attention at the airport customs, or that big multinationals have sent their agents with bags of worm eggs to capture the albeit tiny market for pesticides in Sri Lanka! The facts are much simpler and  patently clear.

How the Senaa caterpillar came in with blackmarket Indian products.

Tne truth is much simpler than that. I was in Sri Lanka in early 2018, when the ban on the popular herbicide glyphosate was in full force.  As I had relatives living in the North Central Province (NCP)  I visited my uncle’s village which is a rural farming community. My uncle himself runs a small grocery business where he sells everything from Chick Peas (Kadala”) to coconuts and cement. Many people grow maize while others engage in paddy farming (where work is limited to a few weeks in each season) and then they go to towns and work in many odd jobs during the rest of the year.

Smuggled Glyphosate (17-March-2017 courtesy Hiru News)

The ban on glyphosate had little effect on the paddy farmers whose need for  the herbicide is minimal and restricted to a few days in each season. However, the herbicide is crucial to the maize farmers whose product was devastated by the ban on the herbicide. Manual weeding is totally impossible given the hot climate, many serpents,  and the harsh, deep-roots weeds that develop rapidly. So many maize farmers had NO OTHER RECOURSE except to buy the black-market glyphosate that had been smuggled in from India. This glyphosate was available in plenty, and came into the country from both the Eastern sea board as well as the North-western coast. Some may have also come through Jaffna, but what I learnt was that most of  the glyphosate available came from coastal operations nearby. The black market glyphosate was what enabled many families to cultivate at least a portion of their iringu hena” (Maize plot). It was not just glyphosate that was being smuggled to Sri Lanka  from India. Many smuggled items, be it sarees, ayurvedic products” or cheap engine parts,  routinely come to our rural areas as the need has to be fulfilled.

The senaa caterpillar had ALREADY arrived in  India in 2017 and thriving there. As glyphosate is a very harmless pesticide, it has no effect what so ever on the Senaa caterpillar’s eggs. So it is a simpler matter to understand that a lot of Senaa contamination would have come to the maize growing areas by way of smuggled products from India.

If glyphosate had NOT been banned, then only approved products  from known sources would have arrived in the country. Instead, in banning the product, the short-sighted legislators opened the flood gates to questionable products. So it is not surprising that Maize was the first crop that was hit by the senaa caterpillar. Even today, glyphsoate is only allowed for tea and rubber, while maize and vegetable farmers etc.,  have to use the unsafe the black-market product. That this black market product is widely used is well known, since even an ex-minister admitted on TV that he uses black-market glyphosate on his 30-acre estate.

Using the Kohombo (Neem) pesticide to eliminate the Senaa caterpillar.

Venerable Ranatana, speaking at the Sadaham Sevena stated that he can kill these thousands of  Senaa caterpillars  using an insecticide based on  Kohomba (Azadirachta indica), a plant well known to Sri Lankans. It is  indeed painful to see a Buddhist monk talking of taking life at a Sadaham center” and engaging in agriculture, when the Vinaya forbids a monk to even run a small vegetable garden in the Temple yard. That is the work  left to  the lay supporters (Dayakays) of the temple. But then, in Sri Lanka politicized  Buddhist monks have eliminated not just thousands of caterpillars, but even assassinated prime ministers. However, the imposition of the Vinaya is a matter for Buddhist elders. Here we will examine if indeed the use of Kohomba based insecticides on a large scale is safe.

Extensive Fields tests are needed to ensure safety before products are introduced.

If the Kohomba preparation can kill the caterpillar, it can also kill every other beneficial bug that is in the soil, in plants and the environment, be they earthworms or bees. A broad-spectrum insecticide with the powers attributed to it by Ven. Rathana is an extremely dangerous substance.

The agrochemicals and insecticides sold by large licensed companies have to prove their efficiency and safety before they are approved for use in the public domain. Such tests usually need  at least five years of testing, and continued testing before the FDA or the EPA give them a license to sell to the public. Contrary tio the widespread belief that agrochemical companies are to be trusted, the bigger companies are the most trustworthy because they are the most scrutinized, and they alone have the reasearch money needed. But their products are independently tested by the US health department, or various research institutes in Diffent countires. Rothamstead in England, or MahaIlluppallama in Sri lanka, undertake such studies. Thus glyphosate, introduced in 1974, continues to be reviewed every five years. The US department of health followed the health of 90,000 farmers over a period of 25 years, and concluded that there is NO increased risk of cancer or any other  non-communicable disease resulting from its use (reports of this study were published in the interim, and a final report was published in November 2017). In Sri Lanka, it seems that glyphosate was tested at the TRI and CRI from 1997-2000 before it was released to the public from 2000 onwards. And yet the public is correct to be constantly  vigilant about these products. However, this same vigilance should be directed at so-called organic” or natural” products which are pushed by Organic-Food super market chains who make dubious claims of these foods being more healthy and better for the environment. They are in fact not so, but a rip off of the unwary consumer.

The new products touted by Ven. Rathana that he boasts can kill the caterpillar in a  mere minutes are products untested for their safety in the long run. Many powerful toxins come from nature. The products made  from Kohomba plant , the rubber plant, or Niyagala, or vaha-Kaduru, or  Aththana, are extremely toxic. A substance does not become   non-toxic to humans simply because it is natural”. We should not allow self-appointed agricultural experts” like Ven. Rathana to destroy the nations agriculture so painstakingly nurtured over decades, guided by the professionals of the tea-rubber-coconut research institutes (TRI, RRI, CRI) and those of  the department  of agriculture (DOI) which runs Gunnoruwa, Kundasale, Bathalagoda, Maha-illuppallama and many other research stations. It is these scientists who have created new hybrids to feed the rapid increase in Sri Lanka’s population, and combated the diseases that came upon our cash crops.

The agricultural political lobby group founded by Ven. Rathana was installed in the Presidential Secretariat of President Sirisena under the name of SEMA, and this touted a bio-fertilizer which was subsequently shown to be a fraud which had no fertilizer effect, but took the money of the farmer. The devastation and expense caused by SEMA, and the banning of glyphosate (which led to the near collapse of the Tea export industry) were instigated by this no-toxins in Sri Lanka” movement. Now, by unleashing a hither-to untested substance on the environment, we are allowing fools to rush  in where angles fear to tread.

Rathan Thera  banned  glyphosate claiming that it causes CKDu. It does not do so. And if you get CKDu, you do not go to Rathana thera but you go to the Kidney specialists.

For heaven’s sake, let the professionals handle the matter.

Bodhi Dhanapala, Quebec, Canada

2 Responses to “How the ban on Glyphosate helped the Army-worm caterpillar.”

  1. Christie Says:

    Glyphosate is a herbicide and not a pesticide.

  2. Randeniyage Says:

    This is how it helped !

    සේනා’ පිටුපස ඇමරිකානු සමාගමක්

    Posted By: රාවය January 26, 2019

    රසික ගුණවර්ධන

    ‘සේනා’ දළඹු උවදුර බීජ මගින් ව්‍යාප්ත වූ බවට තවමත් පැහැදිලි සාක්ෂි නැතත් ඒ පිටුපස ජාන තාක්ෂණය මගින් බීජ නිපදවන ඇමරිකානු සමාගමක් වන Mosanto සමාගම සිටිය හැකි බව කෘෂි විද්‍යාඥයෝ සැක පළ කරති.

    කෘෂි විද්‍යාඥයෝ පවසන පරිදි Armyworm හෙවත් ‘සේනා’ නම් වූ පලිබෝධ වසංගතයට ඔරොත්තු දිය හැකි එකම බඩ ඉරිඟු බීජ ප්‍රභේදය වන්නේ Mosanto සමාගම විසින් නිපදවනු ලබන BT Corn නමින් හඳුන්වන ජාන තාක්ෂණය මගින් නිපදවන බීජ ප්‍රභේදයයි.

    BT Corn යනු Bacillur Thuringiensis බැක්ටීරීයාවේ ජාන ඇතුළත් කර නිපදවනු ලබන බඩ ඉරිඟු විශේෂයක් වන අතර මෙම Bacillur Thuringiensis බැක්ටීරියාව මගින් නිපදවන විෂක් හේතුවෙන් එම බඩ ඉරිඟු කරල් ආහාරයට ගන්නා සේනා දළඹුවන් විනාශයට පත් වේ.

    Bacillus Thuringiensis බැක්ටීරියාවේ ජාන ඇතුළත් කර BT Corn නිපදවන ලෝකයේ එකම කෘෂි බීජ නිශ්පාදන සමාගම වන්නේ Mosanto සමාගම වන අතර ඒ පිළිබඳ පූර්ණ තාක්ෂණය පවතින්නේද ඔවුන් සතුවය. එසේම BT Corn පසට එකතු වීමෙන් පසෙහි සිටින හිතකර ජීවීන් විනාශ වන බවටත් එම බීජ මිනිස් සිරුරට අහිතකර වීමට ඉඩ ඇති බවටත් කෘෂි විශේෂඥයන් අතර සංවාදයක් පවතී.

    කෙසේ වෙතත් Mosanto සමාගම රටවල් 34ක ක්‍රියාත්මක වන අතර උතුරු, මධ්‍යම ඇමරිකානු රටවල් 4ක් දකුණු ඇමරිකානු රටවල් 6ක් යුරෝපයේ රටවල් 12ක් අප්‍රිකාවේ රටවල් 4ක් සහ අසියානු පැසිපික් කලාපයේ ඉන්දියාව ඇතුළුව රටවල් 8ක්ද ඒ අතර තිබේ.

    මේ පිළිබඳ කළ විමසුමකදී සබරගමුව විශ්ව විද්‍යාලයේ පාරිසරික කෘෂි විද්‍යාව පිළිබඳ මහාචාර්ය අයි. පී. යාපා පැවසුවේ ජාන තාක්ෂණය මගින් නිපදවන බෝග වල අනාරක්ෂිත බව නිසා ලෝකයේ බොහෝ රටවල් ඒවා ප්‍රතික්ෂේප කරන බවයි. එසේම 2016දී සේනා දළඹුවා අප්‍රිකාවේ රටවල් 30ක පමණ බඩ ඉරිඟු වාගාව විනාශ කළ අවස්ථාවේදී, එම රටවලට Mosanto සමාගම විසින් BT Corn බඩ ඉරිඟු ප්‍රභේදය හඳුන්වා දීමට උත්සාහ කළ බවත්, ඊට එරට කෘෂි විද්‍යාඥයන් විරෝධය පළ කළද ගොවි ජනතාව එම ප්‍රභේදය භාවිත කිරීමට පෙළඹි ඇති බවත් විදෙස් වාර්තාවල සඳහන් වේ. කෙසේ වෙතත් දකුණු ඇමරිකාව නිජ භූමි වන ‘සේනා’ දළඹුවා විනාශ කිරීමට දකුණු ඇමරිකාවේ ඕනෑ තරම් විලෝපීන් සිටින බවත් ඒ ආශ්‍රයෙන් මෙරට ‘සේනා’ පාලනය කිරීමේ හැකියාවන් ඇති බවත් මාහාචාර්ය අයි. පී. යාපා. වැඩිදුරටත් පැවසීය.

    කෘෂි විද්‍යාඥ ජේ. එම්. සුරවීර පැවසුවේ ‘සේනා’ දළඹුවා විවිධ භෝග විශේෂ 80කට අධික ප්‍රමාණයක හා පැළැටි වර්ග 125ක් මත යැපෙන බවයි. එසේම ‘සේනා’ දළඹුවා පාලනය කිරීම සඳහා මේ මොහොතේ සිදු කළ හැකි වඩාත් ඵලදායීම ක්‍රියාමාර්ගය නම් සේනා දළඹුවා සීඝ්‍රයෙන් පැතිර යාමට හේතුවන බඩ ඉරිඟු වගාව සිදු කරන සියලු වගා භූමි සඳහා වන්දි මුදල් ගෙවා, හමුදාව යොදවා සම්පූර්ණයෙන්ම එම භූමි විනාශ කර දැමීම බවද ඔහු කීය. එවැනි ක්‍රියාමාර්ගයක් නොගතහොත් ‘සේනා’ දළඹුවා නිසා මෙරට කෘෂි කාර්මික පද්ධතියම අකර්මන්‍ය වීමට වැඩි ඉඩක් ඇති බවත් ඕනෑම කෘමි නාශක වර්ගයකට අනුගත වීමේ හැකියාවක් මෙම දළඹුවාට පවතින බැවින් කෘමි නාශක යොදවා මෙම සත්වයා විනාශ කිරීම තාවකාලික වන බවත් ඔහු පැවසීය.

    මේ වන විට වී වගාව සහ උක් වගාව ආශ්‍රීතව පැතිර ගිය සේනා දළඹු විශේෂයන් මර්දනය කර ඇති බවත්, බඩ ඉරිඟු වගාවෙන් 50%ක පමණ ප්‍රමාණයක් තවමත් ‘සේනා’ උවදුරට ගොදුරු වී පවතින බවත් කෘෂි කර්ම අධ්‍යක්ෂ ජනරාල් ආචාර්ය ඩබ්. එම්. ඩබ්. වීරකෝන් රාවයට ප්‍රකාශ කළේය. ■

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