Ten renowned NGOs from Europe in a letter draw the attention of Chinese people, its Preident, Premier and other functionaries, to one of the biggest health problems currently facing the planet – namely the ill health epidemic associated with the ongoing (and expanding) use of the chemical glyphosate and its main formulation called Roundup.
It may be recalled that the latter is a proprietary product marketed by the Monsanto Corporation and other companies worldwide, on the pretence that it is harmless to human beings but lethal to plants. In addition to being widely used as a weedkiller, it is also used increasingly with herbicide-tolerant GMO crops and as a desiccant prior to the harvesting of wheat and other crops.
In situations where “industrial agriculture” is practised, it is sprayed on a vast scale, affecting not just farm workers but also the inhabitants of neighbouring communities. It is therefore widely found nowadays in the food supplies of many countries, including the People’s Republic of China, and is traceable in animal tissues, human urine and breast milk, and a wide variety of marketed food products. This is well documented in the science literature.
While eight of NGOs are based in UK, two are based in Szitzerland and Bulgaria. They are Dr Brian John, GM-Free Cymru, Wales; Peter Melchett, The Soil Association; Dr John Fagan, Earth Open Source, London,; Dr Mae-Wan Ho, Institute of Science in Society, London; Claire Robinson, GM Watch; Pat Thomas, Beyond GM, London; Sandra Smith, GM-Free Scotland; Lawrence Woodward, GM Education – Citizens Concerned about GM ( UK); Michael O’Callaghan, Global Vision Foundation, Geneva (Switzerland) and Henry Rowlands, Global GMO Free Coalition ( Bulgaria).
According to a press release they said that they have been investigating the claims that glyphosate and Roundup are “safe” products, and respectfully asked China to bear in mind the following recent findings:
1. A working party of the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared that glyphosate is now considered to be “a probable human carcinogen”. (1) Their full report ? as yet unpublished ? will contain the full evidence underpinning the conclusion. The IARC Panel has given glyphosate a 2A categorisation for humans, as well as stating that genotoxic effects in other mammals are “sufficiently demonstrated”. As you may know, a 2A categorisation in the IARC is equivalent to category 1B in the European Union, which means that glyphosate cannot receive a new EU authorisation (the matter is currently under review).
2. Recently the Argentinian Federation of Health Professionals (representing 30,000 members) stated: “Glyphosate not only causes cancer. It is also associated with increased spontaneous abortions, birth defects, skin diseases, and respiratory and neurological disease.” On the basis of accumulated experience over many years, the doctors have called for an immediate ban on glyphosate herbicides in their country (2).
3. Following various leads into the archives of the American Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), we issued a short report that shows that both Monsanto and the EPA knew of the link between glyphosate and cancer as long ago as 1980, since malignant tumours and other organ damage had been recorded in rat and mouse feeding studies which were, and still are, treated as trade secrets. Our revelations confirmed other findings published by Caroline Cox in 1995 and by the Institute of Science in Society in 2014.
The myth relating to the “relative safety” of glyphosate herbicides was promoted by both Monsanto and the EPA in 1981, and has been kept alive ever since by American, EU and other regulators around the world for purely commercial reasons. We are also uncomfortable with the business practice of hiding away important scientific findings by classifying them as trade secrets, thus disallowing public scrutiny of such documents. From a European perspective, in our view EFSA and other EU agencies have also turned a blind eye to the accumulating evidence of harm since 2002.
Arising out of the above, they said that they are genuinely frightened by the harm currently being done to the health of Chinese citizens and indeed the health of people across the planet. According to them, China already is the largest producer and exporter of glyphosate in the world, including supplies exported to Monsanto for use in the manufacture of Roundup formulations worldwide.
Accordingly, they asked the Chinese Government to accept that it shoulders, together with Monsanto, some responsibility for the devastating harm to public health in those countries importing glyphosate/Roundup from China. They are also concerned that there may be massive claims for compensation in the near future.
China is also the largest importer of “Roundup Ready” (RR) soybeans and maize, thus contributing to the ongoing production of these varieties in the USA, Argentina and Brazil. It will be no easy thing to close down factories and to ban the use of the chemical in town and country; and if imports of RR soy and maize are stopped, they will have to be replaced with other products, they added.
The NGOs asked China to take a global lead in this matter.
Published: 8 April, 2015. By Narendra Ch
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