by Chandre Dharma-wardana† (posted: 18-Jan-2018)
Natural News, which claims to be "The world's top news source on natural
health" is a website which promotes the cult of eating only "natural foods".
Such advocacy groups are
ideologically opposed to even the most judicious use of fertilizers, pesticides,
fluoridation of water, iodization of salt, vaccinations and pasteurization of milk.
Genetically modified (GMO) crops are the very anathema to them. They pursue a
program designed for the elite, ignoring the impossibility of feeding this highly
over-populated world. Using half-truths and total falsehoods based on pseudoscience,
they try to get the world to wear the blinkers that they themselves are wearing. Or,
they make big claims for a "sustainable world" which is only possible if most of the
world's population is some how reduced to medieval levels!
See Can Organic farming feed the world?, Answering the Swiss Researchers.
Here we examine and comment on a recent posting on "Natural News" entitled Five countries have banned glyphosate in the wake of recent lawsuits", 30-Sep.-2017 . There has been a flurry of activity by such advocacy groups in the hope of influencing the European parliament to ban the herbicide "glyphosate" popularly sold as "Roundup". This citizen-led Kangaroo court in the Hague comes up in regard to Argentina and Sri Lanka in the "Natural News" report. The 'tribunal' was launched at the Hague to "try Monsanto" for selling "a dangerous poison like glyphosate", thus committing a "crime against humanity" and "ecocide" (photo courtesy: flicker/cc).
[Natural News Material is in Maroon colour.]
Five countries have banned glyphosate in the wake of recent lawsuits
Saturday, September 30, 2017 by: Michelle Simmons
Five countries have banned glyphosate in the wake of recent lawsuits
(Natural News) The Flemish government has joined the number of countries banning glyphosate, as reported by the Baum Hedlund. The prohibition on the use of glyphosate is not new in the country as the Belgian cities of Brussels and Wallonia have already issued their own laws regarding the individual use of the chemical.
(Our comment) Belgium is a part of the European Union which has ratified the use of glyphosate for another five years. Glyphosate, Top-Selling Weed Killer, Wins E.U. Approval for 5 Years, 27 Nov 2017
Even France which opposed the 5-year extension supported a three-year extension prior to another political review or banning etc. Before Brexit, UK wanted a 10-year extension. USA, Canada, Australia, Japan etc., do not use a political review. There is no gazette notification by the Belgian govt. banning it. Only restrictions for home garden use etc., have been imposed. In any case, such restrictions are merely cosmetic actions in a country like Belgium which is one of the most polluted countries in the world, with record levels of cadmium in its soils (3.5 mg/L) and in its crops (3-4 parts of Cd per million) as seen from the
FAO soil bulletin 65 and subsequent publications.
The pollution is from 200 years of industry, use of coal, and 20th century use of fossil fuels in automotive traffic etc. Banning glyphosate a class-II hazard-level toxin (according to the IARC) while not banning class-I toxins (cigarette smoke, sausages, alcohol etc.) is absurd indeed. Continued use of glyphosate would have helped to improve the soil by chelating off the heavy metals in the soil and made Belgium's food chain more healthy. (end comment)
In addition to Belgium, four more countries have banned glyphosate for this year. These are:
Malta - The country was the first European country to ban the use of this controversial weedkiller.
(Our comment) Malta comes only second to Belgium in the level of its heavy metal toxins in the soil and its crops. A Maltese worrying about parts per billion glyphosate residues is like an obese person sinking rapidly in quicksand worrying about the weight of a coin in his pocket. Continued use of glyphosate would help to improve the soil by chelating off the heavy metals in the soil and made Malta's food chain more healthy. Malta has not gazetted a ban on glyphosate; only some restrictions have been imposed. (end comment)
Sri Lanka - The President of Sri Lanka also banned the use of glyphosate nationwide to protect the health of the its citizens. The herbicide has been linked to a quintuple increase in the prevalence of chronic kidney disease (CKD) in the nation and resulted in about 20,000 deaths in northern Sri Lanka. (Our comment)
The herbicide was linked to chronic kidney disease (CKD) by a woman who claimed to communicate with a divine spirit known as "God Natha", a deity venerated by the Naga people of ancient Lanka, and subsequently absorbed into folk Buddhism. A Buddhist monk turned politician named Ven. Ratana helped to fan the myth. A "paper" was published in 2014 with the psychic woman as one of the authours appeared in a journal that had been named a "predatory journal" which simply publishes "scientific-looking" papers if a page charge is paid. The same 'MDPI" family of journals published the now notorious Stephanie Seneff paper. See:
When Media Uncritically Cover Pseudoscience By Keith Kloor | April 26, 2013, Discover Magazine
Hardly any mainstream scientist in Sri Lanka or elsewhere supports this "theory". Biopsies of over 97% of the CKD patients show no significant traces of glyphosate to speak of. This form of Kidney disease is believed to be caused by consuming well water containing fluoride, magnesium and other ions contained in brackish household well water, as evident from a recent article in the distinguished journal
Nature scientific reports ( Wasana et al., 2017, doi: 10.1038/srep42516).
There, the effect is demonstrated on laboratory mice. A popular review of what was known about CKD, written before its publication shows that even prior to that definitive work, the scientific community had begun to understand the nephrotoxic danger of fluoride and hard water acting together.
Chronic kidney disease of uncertain aetiology (CKDu) of Sri Lanka : War on kidney-March-2017, Daily News, Tilak Abesekera, Consultant Nephrologist, Peradeniya.
The Buddhist monk Ven. Ratana and a young medical doctor who had contested in Sri Lankan elections attended the "citizen's trial" of Monsanto held in the Netherlands, Hague in 2017. THey claimed that Monsanto's glyphosate has killed some 20,000 people by causing kidney disease. The young doctor, Jayasumana, was the lead collaborator of the article authored by the psychic woman in 2014.
The emotionally charged propaganda used the fear of CKD, a slanderous book, political and pseudo-religious activism in 2015 to ban glyphosate in Sri Lanka. It has had a disatrous effect on Sri lanka's agricultural sector, and especially on its world-famous tea plantations. See
Sri Lankan Tea Farmers Sense Trouble Brewing Over Glyphosate Ban, Blomberg News, Jan 9, 2018
The article by the Psychic lady and her collaborators was presented as a major breakthorugh by Truthout.org and 'Doctor' Mercola although it had no data, field studies etc., and averred itself to be a "hypothesis"! See
Rebuttal of Jeff Ritterman and Truthout.org: Monsanto's herbicide and its alleged link with Kidney Disease. Pseudoscience at its best? (end comment)
The Netherlands - The Netherlands likewise prohibited the herbicide after hearing the arguments of Party for Animals, an organization that focuses on animal rights issues. glyphosate for another five years.
(Our comment) The Netherlands has not banned glyphsoate; as part of the EU, it has ratified a 5-year extension of glyphosate use. A member of the "Party for Animals", PvdD in Dutch, is the Netherlands representative in the EU and hence the PvdD has perhaps undue influence in some EU matters, given that this "single-issue" party working for animal rights has only 3.2% of the 2017 vote in Holland. Nevertheless, the PvdD policy against eating meat is ecologically very sound, while its policies on glyphosate and the opposition to "industrial agriculture" are based on misinformation widely prevalent among the general public. The PvdD leaders are lawyers, with no scientifically informed people in the its direction. (end comment)
Argentina - Meanwhile in Argentina, about 30,000 doctors demanded the prohibition of glyphosate in their country since the chemical is associated with cancer, spontaneous abortions, birth defects, skin diseases, respiratory illness, and neurological disease.
(our comment) The ludicrous Argentinian claims of two-headed pigs, babies with cleft palets etc., said to be caused by glyphosate were embarrassing to even some of the committed anti-glyphosate activists who were at the Hague, and "too much" for some of the more informed leading "green organizations" like the "Friends of the Earth" group.
In many countries, the opposition to Monsanto, glyphosate and GMO foods is linked to the strong opposition to US Capitalism, and looked upon as a "heroic act" among the the young people. The "younger-age" demographics in these countries favour populist politics and complex environmental issues get short changed into simplistic ideologically driven positions.(end comment)
In 2015, the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) identified glyphosate as a potential carcinogen to humans. They found a strong association between glyphosate and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, which is a type of blood cancer that affects the white blood cells called lymphocytes. Lawsuits against Roundup - Monsanto's flagship product - began piling in after the IARC report.
(our comment) Any substance, even a "health" substance like Vitamin C, becomes a health risk and toxic if the daily maximum approved intake (MAI) or prescribed dose is exceeded. That is, all substances are toxic if the intake exceeds the MAI. Red meat, sausages etc are classified as carcinogens in the IARC Hazard class I, but they are not a health risk unless you over-consume.
The IARC classification of glyphosate in class-II is a Hazard classification (i.e., less hazardous than read meat), and NOT given as a health-risk. This was clarified in the 16th-May-2016 press release of a WHO and FAO subcommittee (Joint Committee on Pesticide Residues) where a safe daily intake maximum of 60-100 mg for an average adult was suggested, while the normal intake of farmers using glyphosate WITHOUT protective gear is in the microgram range (i.e., a millionth part). One of Scientists (Dr. John McLaughlin) who was a signatory to the IARC report, and Prof. Joe Schwarcz were interviewed by the TV-Ontario "Debate in Round UP" after the IARC press release. Glyphosate use was stated to be NOT a health risk by these experts. See
Transcript of TVO on Monsanto's Roundup, IARC report stating a cancer hazard, but NO HEALTH RISK!
The Live discussion on TVO regarding Monsanto's round up by Two Experts. (end comment)
Over 1,100 people all over the U.S.have filed lawsuits against Monsanto. Allegedly, exposure to Roundup caused them to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma. There are more than 50 lawsuits against Monsanto that continue to pile up in the U.S. District Court in San, Francisco.
Moreover, the glyphosate manufacturer is also facing a class action lawsuit in Wisconsin after six consumers claimed that Roundup was falsely promoted as safe when it actually caused adverse impacts on human gut bacteria.
(our comment) These lawsuites reflect the nature of the US litigation system driven by class-action attempts to make money. The "lymphomas" were claimed only after the IARC press release, attempting to misinterpret its hazard classification as a health-risk classification.(end comment)
Earlier this year, the California Environmental Protection Agency's "Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA)" confirmed that glyphosate would be added to California's Proposition 65 list of chemicals known to cause cancer. (Related: Glyphosate and cancer: Read how this deadly weed killer promotes multiple myeloma, leukemia, sperm damage, infertility, kidney damage, autism, endocrine disruption, DNA damage and birth defects.) Over 750 products that contain glyphosate are sold in the U.S. market.
(our comment) Adding glyphosate to the OEHHA list is perfectly legitimate as it deals with HAZARD and not with health risk. A fireplace is a Hazard but not a health risk unless there is no chimney. (end comment)
Many countries continue to ban the chemical because of the proven health risks that it causes humans.
(our comment) This is quite untrue. The EU has approved it for 5 years. Most industrialized countries do NOT hold a political review of glyphosate as done by the EU, but let the expert committees to do periodic evaluations.
The claim by this website in Sep. 2017 that 5 countries had banned glyphosate, and many countries have lawsuits against glyphosate are both false. There are other fake-news websites which claim that some 50 countires have banned glyphosate or are on the verge of banning it, with no evidence to support it.
The fear that what you eat is “poisoned” have been fanned and propagated by many so-called "green" and "natural" websites which also promote various "health foods", "detoxifying preparations", natural foods etc. In fact, when the "biodynamic" or "organic food" movement was launched in the 1920s by the Austrian entrepreneur Rudolf Steiner. He claimed that agriculture must use "cosmic and telluric forces", and established the lucrative certification of "bio-dynamic" products and became very wealthy. This is leading to a a two-tier food market with the top tier, made up of “organic foods” catering to the rich, while the poor have to eat the food from the large warehouse sales centers,or even soup kitchens for the poor. See The two-tier food system, a take off from Dr. Mercola on how GMOs and Glyphosate Impact Soil Biology.
“Sustainable agriculture” based on so-called "organic farming" which rejects modern advances in agricultural science has misguided, false and impossible in a world where even the existing population has rapidly increasing insatiable demands due to unsustainable aspirations for greedy life-styles. We already referred you to the following article:
Can organic agriculture feed the world, Dec. 2017 - Reply to the Swiss Researchers Mueller et al.
Countries like Sri Lanka and El Salvador that use smaller amounts of agrochemicals (e.g., 71 kg/hectare in the case of El Salvador, World Bank data) are affected by various chronic diseases, while New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Qatar (12,111 kg/hectare) which use much larger amounts are not. There is an ANTI-CORRELATION between the use of agrochemicals and chronic illnesses, contrary to the widely held beliefs of the "man in the street".
It is the industrialization that occurred in the West over two centuries, with little attention to environmental impact, use of coal and fossil fuels, that is the cause of pollution in the industrialized world, and NOT "industrial agriculture".
This earth, with its limited supply of water, phosphate, and other crucial minerals cannot ever support these demands via “traditional agriculture”, until the world's population reduces back to what it was in the 19th century. Even then, it could feed only the small stratum of land-owning elites.
The author is a Canadian and Sri Lankan academic and research scientist working on problems in quantum physics as well as on environmental health and quantitative biophysics.