Who's Online

We have 284 guests online

Popular

2829 readings
Fallout from WHO Classification of Glyphosate as Probable Carcinogen PDF Print E-mail
Earth News
Posted by Joan Russow
Monday, 15 June 2015 17:04

The Institute of Science in Society

Science Society Sustainability

www.i-sis.org.uk http://www.i-sis.org.uk/contact.php

This article can be found on the I-SIS website at http://www.i-sis.org.uk/Fallout_from_WHO_Classification_of_Glyphosate_as_Probable_Carcinogen.php

If you would like to be removed from our mailing list unsubscribe at http://www.i-sis.org.uk/unsubscribe
or email  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


ISIS Report 10/06/15

Fallout from WHO Classification of Glyphosate as Probable Carcinogen

Campaigns to ban and phase out the chemical across the world intensify with major successes Dr Eva Sirinathsinghji

Could it be that the World Health Organisation’s classification of glyphosate as a ‘probable carcinogen’ (see [1] Glyphosate ‘Probably Carcinogenic to Humans’ Latest WHO AssessmentSiS 66) will be the final nail in the coffin for the world’s most popular herbicide and Monsanto’s flagship product.

Recent weeks have seen the intensification of campaigns to ban or remove the product as well as lawsuits being filed against Monsanto; in the US for false safety claims of glyphosate, and in China, for hiding toxicity studies from the public. (El Salvador has already banned the chemical though yet to be signed into law [2], while the Netherlands last year banned private sales [3]. Sri Lanka had a partial ban in place in regions most afflicted by chronic kidney disease that has been linked to glyphosate use (see later)).

People have known the truth for years. Industry and government regulators have conspired to bury copious evidence of toxicity for decades, and they feel to some extent vindicated by the latest WHO assessment (see [4]Glyphosate and CancerSiS 62) and [5] EU Regulators and Monsanto Exposed for Hiding Glyphosate ToxicitySiS 51). More importantly, governments are finally beginning to take action. 

Outright bans

Colombia has taken the lead, deciding to suspend aerial spraying of illegal coca as well as poppy plants, which is expected to come into effect in a few weeks’ time following a majority 7 to 1 vote for the ban by the National Narcotics Council [6]. The day before the ban, the Interamerican Association for Environmental Defence (AIDA) delivered 24 000 signatures to the Minister of Justice who also chairs the Narcotics Council to push for this decision [7].

Colombia had been employing US contractors to spray glyphosate for two decades, covering an estimated 1.6 million hectares of land. This spraying for the “war on drugs” has been ineffective in eradicating illegal cocaine production, but has instead caused rising illness in local communities, killing local crops and polluting land and water supplies. Indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities have borne the brunt of the fumigation programs, prompting protests against both coca production and glyphosate use that has been displacing people from ancestral lands [8]. Colombia is not alone.

Bermuda, the British overseas territory in the Atlantic also banned glyphosate imports with immediate effect following the WHO assessment, as announced by their Minister of Health, Jeanne Atherden, whose decision was supported by local farmers [9]. The Minister said she believes the “action we are taking today is prudent and in the best interests of a safe environment….Like any area of science, there are competing studies and a wealth of information on both sides of the argument….  I am satisfied that this action is warranted and we are committed to conducting an open and thorough investigation” [10].

Sri Lanka is the latest country to declare an outright ban with the new president, a farmer and previously the Health Minister, Maithripala Sirisena taking the decision due the epidemic of chronic kidney disease that is afflicting the farming regions of the country [11]. The spread of kidney disease highlights the wide-ranging toxicity of glyphosate not limited to carcinogenicity. The country’s battle to ban the chemical precedes the WHO declaration, coming after studies by Sri Lankan researchers linked the chemical to hard water, heavy metal contaminants and glyphosate use (see [12] Sri Lanka Partially Bans Glyphosate for Deadly Kidney Disease EpidemicSiS 62). This prompted an initial ban, which was later restricted to certain regions of the country following intense lobbying pressure. With the government paying for healthcare of over 25 000 residents and supplying them with fresh water, the latest decision for an outright ban could not come soon enough.

Imminent bans, protests, and fresh calls for bans

Brazil is facing growing pressure to follow suit, with the country’s public state prosecutor writing to Brazil’s National Health Surveillance Agency (ANVISA) asking it to urgently re-evaluate their stance on glyphosate and also revoke authorisations on glyphosate-tolerant GM crops [13]. He has even gone as far as launching an investigation into whether regulatory authorisations are legal for the GM crops. ANVISA are stalling their decision however, until the full report by the WHO is published.

In Argentina, 30 000 health professionals belonging to the union of doctors and health professionals (FESPROSA), have come out in support of the WHO decision [14], claiming that glyphosate “not only causes cancer. It is also associated with increased spontaneous abortions, birth defects, skin diseases, and respiratory and neurological disease.” The statement continues: “Health authorities, including the National Ministry of Health and the political powers, can no longer look away. Agribusiness cannot keep growing at the expense of the health of the Argentine people. The 30,000 health professionals in Argentina in the FESPROSA ask that glyphosate is now prohibited in our country and that a debate on the necessary restructuring of agribusiness is opened, focusing on the application of technologies that do not endanger human life.”

Similarly, the Society of Paediatric Haematology-Oncology (SAHOP) issued a statement calling for an immediate ban of glyphosate fumigation, signed by the President of the Paediatric society Pedro Zubizarreta.  They objected to the massive use of toxic products being sprayed in ever increasing concentrations in combinations of both insecticides and herbicides, and being sold as ‘technological advancements’. They also warned of storing the grains in plastic bags, which leaves grains teeming with aflatoxins, categorised by the WHO’s IARC as a known carcinogen since 1993 [15]. Glyphosate has already been previously linked to the growth of these fungi in scientific studies, along with many other crop diseases [16].

Successful protests in Argentina were also recently mobilised to prevent Dr Medardo Ávila Vázquez from losing his job after the agribusiness-funded university threatened to sanction him for conducting and disseminating studies showing the high levels of cancers affecting his region as a result of agrichemical spraying [17]. These protests are a tribute to his work in exposing the toxicity of glyphosate, as well as the groundswell of opposition to glyphosate spraying in the country despite support by the national government. Local residents are gaining strength to voice their concerns following the WHO news as well as the recent decision by the Ministry of Production in the province of Santa Fe to ban aerial spraying of 2,4-D within 6 km of residents, confirming the health risks of the chemical agricultural system that leaves children covered in chemical and dust particles as they walk to school [18].

In Europe, the International Society of Doctors for the Environment (ISDE) (an influential body with member organizations in 27 countries) has written to officials at the EU parliament and Commission asking for an immediate ban of glyphosate herbicides and for insecticides also judged by the WHO to be carcinogens, without exceptions [19].

Germany’s state consumer protection ministers are calling for an EU-wide ban on selling glyphosate for home use, for precautionary reasons [20], while the German retail giant REWE has decided to remove all glyphosate from its ‘toom Baumarkt DIY’ store shelves by September 2015 [21].

Swiss companies are following in their footsteps, with Coop supermarkets and Switzerland’s largest retail company, Migros declaring they will both no longer sell any products containing it [22]. A member of the EU commission stated in the 2015 GMO-free conference 2015 in Berlin, Germany that they will include the WHO assessment in their re-evaluation procedures that is due to be completed later this year. However the corrupt process of reassessment that was led by a consortium of chemical companies (see [23] Scandal of Glyphosate Re-assessment in EuropeSiS 63) means that EU campaigners will have to push hard to force the EU to have some semblance of integrity in their final decision making.

In Denmark, the Danish Working Environment Authority has decided to follow the WHO decision and has now declared glyphosate a carcinogen, with the expected outcome being a switch to alternative, less toxic chemicals (see [24] Roundup Listed Carcinogen by Danish AuthoritySiS 67).  The decision is backed by one of the world’s leading toxicologists, Philippe Grandjean, a professor at the University of Denmark where he is head of the Environmental Medicine Research Unit as well as being an adjunct professor at Harvard University. Commenting on the decision he stated, “It is so common a substance – and our use of it is so extensive – that this WHO report must be taken seriously," while encouraging people to rid the chemical from their homes. With such a decision, it now seems unlikely that the post-harvest spraying of crops for desiccation will go ahead this year, which contributes to it being the most widely used herbicide in the country. This is big news in a country about to face an election, with the highly-respected Professor Grandjean’s media appearances drawing much public attention, leaving little room for industry to defend themselves. 

US citizens file class action lawsuits against Monsanto for false safety claims

A group of citizens in Los Angeles County are taking court action against Monsanto for falsifying safety claims that Roundup® “targets an enzyme found in plants but not people and pets” in its labelling of the herbicide [25]. The lawsuit applies to residents of California who have purchased Roundup at any time during the last four years. This lawsuit, if successful can encourage similar actions elsewhere in the country.

The claim that glyphosate targets an enzyme (EPSP synthase) that does not physically exist in people ignores the fact that EPSP synthase is present in the bacteria that live inside people. Moreover, these microbes are intimately linked to many physiological functions in the body that are vital to human health, and their disruption is increasingly linked to illness. The plaintiffs state in the lawsuit that “...this claim is absolutely, positively false because glyphosate does indeed target an enzyme “found in people” – in our gut bacteria”, making Monsanto’s claim “objectively false (and inherently misleading)”. The class action further alleges that Monsanto, “cannot deny that Roundup targets an enzyme that is physically located inside of people….this fact lay beyond dispute”.

Monsanto’s claim that glyphosate targets a single enzyme is also a fallacy. It has been shown to disrupt the function of many enzymes at least in part due to its metal chelating activities, a property for which the chemical was originally patented in 1964. Metals act as co-factors for many enzymes which is why metals are key to any healthy diet.

Anyone wishing to support the suit filed by T. Mathew Phillips can visit the attorney’s website [26].

Chinese citizens sue government for hiding toxicity studies from public

Continue reading here http://www.i-sis.org.uk/Fallout_from_WHO_Classification_of_Glyphosate_as_Probable_Carcinogen.php

Or read other recent reports on the ISIS science website here http://www.i-sis.org.uk/index.php


If you find this report useful, please support ISIS by subscribing to our magazine Science in Society, and encourage your friends to do so.
http://www.i-sis.org.uk/subscribe Or have a look at the ISIS bookstore for other publications http://www.i-sis.org.uk/onlinestore/books.php


All new articles are also announced on our RSS feed http://www.i-sis.org.uk/feed.xml and on our Facebook page

ISIS website is now archived by the British Library as part of UK national documentary heritage

If you like this original article from the Institute of Science in Society, and would like to continue receiving articles of this calibre, please consider making a donation or purchase on our website http://www.i-sis.org.uk/ISISappeal.php

ISIS is an independent, not-for-profit organisation dedicated to providing critical public information on cutting edge science, and to promoting social accountability and ecological sustainability in science.

If you would like to be removed from our mailing list unsubscribe at http://www.i-sis.org.uk/unsubscribe
or email  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


CONTACT DETAILS
Please see http://www.i-sis.org.uk/contact.php

 
 
 
 
 

Latest News